Fight For Your Rights

NUGW [Tokyo Nambu] boasts about 65 workplace branches, and it has 200 more members at companies without on-site branches. Approximately 20 percent of its 2,600 members are foreigners, and 80 percent of those are teachers; another 10 percent work for newspapers. NUGW [Tokyo Nambu], whose foreign members are mostly from Western countries, is one of the Tokyo area?s few general unions with a large non-Japanese representation. Others, such as Zentoitsu Workers Union and Kanagawa City Union, have significant Central Asian, African and Brazilian members. Both unions put a priority on such issues as workplace safety and help with visas.

?If there?s a union branch, members can choose demands and submit them to management,? Carlet says. ?We can help individuals, but it?s much more difficult. We can collective-bargain, but management sees one person as [simply causing] a problem. Often we tell them to come back with one or two of their coworkers.?