Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru is, reportedly, planned to issue an ordinance to ban political commitment of the city's public workers and to penalize them if they involve in such activities. The mayor has already taken a step to restrict the labor-management negotiation practice to seal off economic demands of workers. Now he attempts to confine their political and social demands. Mayor is not entitled to do so.
PUBLIC SERVANTS ARE WORKERS AND HUMAN BEINGS
Certainly the existing laws regulate political activities of public workers to some extent, though the fact violates Article 21 of Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and political activities. People have fought at workplaces to today to break down this barrier. As far as the Local Public Service Act is concerned, a penalty clause is absent though it imposes some restrictions on political actions of workers.
Let's look at a draft of Osaka City's ordinances. In the same way as the National Civil Service Law the city authority will prohibit (1) publication and distribution of an organ of political organizations, including parties, (2) participation and planning of street marches composed of a large number of people and other demonstration acts and (3) addressing of his/her views with a political intention with a loud speaker in the rally, and penalty will be imposed, if they violate, with imprisonment maximum 2 years and a fine, one million Yen.
The order is said to be applied to workers in the local offices of transportation and garbage collection though they are not covered by the Local Public Service Act.
Struggles are Weak and Attacked
Constitution says that all public officials are servants of the whole community and not of any group thereof (Article 15) and that they have the obligation to respect and uphold the constitution (Article 99). In this sense duty of the state and municipalities is to guarantee equally people/residents to enjoy the fundamental human rights, and therefore public officials should be restricted (politically) in the behaviors.
Let's look into facts. Do public workers in general commit in politically-motivated discriminative attitudes, taking advantage of his/her status and authority as an official and representing 'a group' (a political party, a faction and an interest group)? Do they work for the whole community or do more than that? Certain high-ranking bureaucrats who have close ties with politicians and representatives of Big Business may behave to favor 'a group'.
What we have to focus here is weakness in the struggles of public workers and their trade unions: public servants are human beings and at the same time workers, and therefore they should fight for their cause. But the struggles have failed in establishing a link with people's fights in general to defend the human rights. That means weakness in a political campaign.
Truths Disclosed in Approval of Re-operation at Oi Nuclear Plant
The Osaka-Ishin-no-Kai (One Osaka=Osaka Restoration Association), whose head is Mayor Hashimoto, is a front runner of the neo-liberal line. The group is to undermine bases of public services: medical service, welfare, education, public transportation, water supply, garbage collection and etc, as well as environmental protection measures. In other words it renounces public responsibilities, privatize services and emphasize individual responsibilities of residents.
The Osaka Restoration Association attacks public servants at the workplaces: not only a wage cut and manpower reduction, but dismissal of workers without honor in line with the privatization process. Furthermore, the Osaka Prefecture government has already approved controversial orders: the ordinances to oblige school teachers to sing the National Anthem Kimigayo (=Emperor's Reign) in the ceremonies, to implement a locally-set education policy on public schools and to compel city officials to follow the Association-version ethics. These decisions will be followed by the new ones to regulate labor unions and to ban political activities. They are a first strike against public sector workers/unions who have resisted long against the neo-liberal measures at various workplaces.
The association, firstly, targets public workers of Osaka Prefecture and City, and, secondly, all public workers across the nation, proclaiming that 'a reform starts from Osaka. Don't make a second Greece'. It bans workers to rebel against the authority.
The Ishin-no-Kai is planned to take part in the national level politics. Their strategy is to demonize public workers who reject the neo-liberal politics.
Look again at Mayor Hashimoto. He has lately ended his spectacular anti-nuclear performance, facing the Noda government's decision to re-operate a nuclear plant at Oi, Fukui Prefecture. The New Socialist Party advocates public workers to stage counteroffensive.
June 12, 2012