In Japan, collective bargaining is named after “Shunto”.
Shunto refers to the annual spring round of wage that
is negotiable between trade unions and the big business of enterprise unions.
They have three major labour laws which are the Labour Standards Law (LSL),
Trade union Law (TUL), and the Labour Relations Adjustment Law (LRAL). Each labour
law addresses different issues. LSL takes care of the working conditions,
workplace safety and hygiene while LRAL deals with the adjustments and disputes
settled by the law.
The trade unions guarantee workers the right to be part of
the collective bargaining process in accordance of the Constitution. The
structure of Labour Unions comprises of three levels which are the
Enterprise-based labour union, Industrial trade unions and National centres.
Enterprise-based labour union forms the bulk of Japan’s
trade unions. The most unique feature of Enterprise-based labour bargaining is the
autonomy over the process. Additionally, enterprise-based union helps to
maintain and improve the working conditions by participating in collective
bargaining and consultation with the upper management.
The three primary rights mostly practiced in the union
include the right to organise, bargain and engage in strikes. In most cases,
only the company’s permanent staffs are considered to be part of the union. However,
an increasing amount of enterprises is starting to unionise the non-permanent
employees that are in the service sectors.
During the collective
bargaining process, the matters have to be written and either signed or affixed
with seals by both labour and management representatives. The collective
agreement requires three-fourth or more of the regular employees under the same
working area or employees who have applied for the same collective agreements.
The remaining workers will need to conclude their own collective agreements if an
exception exists in some cases.
The longest term for the validity of the collective
agreements is three years by law. Generally, most agreements are within one
year of duration as shown, 58.4% of collective agreements provides a term in
one year and 7.7% has a term of three years. In Japan, collective agreements can be cancelled by either
party giving a minimum of 90-day notice.