The Link Between Employment and Welfare and the Consequences for Social Inclusion of Non-Standard Workers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 12:30 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Jun IMAI , Hokkaido University, Japan
Almost fifteen years have passed since the rising levels of inequality and insecurity became the social issues in Japan.  One of the major reasons of this is clearly rooted in the limited social inclusion of non-regular workers within the institutionalized pattern of social security of livelihood and future prospects.  Although the last several years witnessed some attempts of re-regulation of labor markets under the governance of the Democratic Party of Japan such as the revisions of Temporary Dispatching Work Law and Part-time Work Law, the processes and the outcomes of re-regulation appear to legitimatize or even formalize the existing structure of inequalities and exclusion.  The paper argues that the situation cannot be turned around unless the specific link between employment and welfare and the norms that support it is properly recognized.  The link is shaped as a specific type of industrial citizenship, a set of rights and duties for employers and workers that is negotiated historically between state, firm and labor.  In Japan, it was negotiated by enterprise-based labor unions prioritizing the employment security of workers with standard employment contract who are typically employed by large manufacturers.  Social security system was designed to support these male bread-winners.  Ironically, this citizenship – negotiated standard of social justice in a society – justifies triple inequalities that characterize the current labor markets in Japan: large firms over smaller firms, men over women, regular employment over non-regular employment with regard to the access to livelihood security and future prospects.  The paper points out the necessity to overcome the standard employment centrism that produces the ironical consequences.