An Important election is taking place between now and October 6th. The election is for a workers' representative for the Kinugasa campus. Under the Japanese Labour Standards Law, before management can change working rules, or require workers to work over-time, they need the agreement either of a union representing 51% of employees, or of a workers representative, elected by over 50% of employees.
At Ritsumeikan there is no such union with over 50% membership.
Most importantly, if there is no workers' representative, Ritsumeikan cannot legally require anyone to work overtime.
The In-House Union
Perhaps you have never heard of this union, because you can't join. But Ritsumeikan has its own In-House Union (Kyoshokuin Kumiai). This is not an independent trade union.
The In-House Union at Ritsumeikan actually excludes from membership all part-time and contract workers, who make up 50% of Ritsumeikan's workforce.
The election procedures are still far from democratic. They are run entirely by the In-House Union.
There is very little publicity or information telling people where to vote, or that a vote is taking place at all. The leadership of the in-house union want to keep the campaign as low key as possible.
Astonishingly they have decided that the 'votes' of people who abstain will be added to the candidate who gets the most support! They don't appear to be very confident of getting many of their members out to vote.
Why did I never hear about the Workers' Representative Election in previous years?
You never heard about it because in previous years the workers' representative has been selected in a thoroughly undemocratic way. Even less democracy was practised than now.
Notices were put up calling for nominations, after the start of the Summer break. In September, before most of us return, another notice was posted announcing that only one nomination had been received, and that that person had been elected unopposed.
The representative then rubber stamped documents such as the new working rules for Hijokin, Shokutaku and Jokin kyoshi, introduced last year.
Because of the General Union's campaign, they have been forced, for the first time, to hold a real election. There are three candidates standing. Endo Reiko, General Union member. Matsui Kaori, from the Hogakubu office, the candidate of the in-house union and Prof. Hori Masaharu from the Law Faculty.
The workers representative has the power to sign away important rights, like the right to decide whether or not you want to work overtime. He or she also has the right to approve changes in our working conditions. A solid vote for our candidate in this election will strengthen our hand in future negotiations. Conversely, a poor vote will send a message to management that we can be ignored.
Where and how to vote?
Jokin and Hijokin who are based in a faculty, can vote in the faculty offices. Shokutaku are not assigned to a faculty and need to go to the office of the in-house union, called Kyoshokuin Kaikan. Go up the stairs to the left of the YoYokan (Seisaku gakubu building) entrance and it is on the right before you get to the coffee shop. You need to go up the stairs to the second floor to vote. You should ask to vote in the Rodosha Daihyo Senkyo (workers' representative election).
Your name will then be crossed off a list of employees and you will be given a ballot paper. Voting is by secret ballot, with sealed boxes in all of the faculties. You should mark the ballot paper by circling your candidate of choice and not by putting a cross against the candidates name.