The ruling bloc bulldozed a contentious bill to revise the worker dispatch law through an Upper House committee Tuesday, clearing a critical hurdle for its enactment that will enable companies to use temporary workers for as long as they wish.
With the committee’s approval, the full Upper House is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday and send it on to the Lower House, which could pass it as soon as Thursday. Under that scenario it would take effect Sept. 30.
The law in its current form puts a three-year limit on the use of temporary workers dispatched from staffing agencies to do the same job, except for those engaged in 26 specific jobs designated as requiring specialized skills, such as translators and secretaries.
The revision will lift the three-year limitation, allowing companies to use temps — who are both cheap to employ and easy to lay off — for as long as they want under the condition that the company replace the temp every three years with a new worker dispatched by a staffing agency.
It will also abolish the exemption for 26 specialized jobs and place a blanket three-year cap on all temporary workers doing the same jobs at the same companies.
As of June 1, 2014, some 1.26 million people were working in temporary positions. Although the number was down from the 2 million registered in 2008, when the global financial crunch saw thousands of temps thrown out of work as firms cut back on staffing levels, opposition parties and labor unions have warned that the amendment will swell the ranks of temps once again.
The Lower House passed the bill June 19, but its deliberation in the Upper House was delayed significantly due to strong protests from the opposition camp, including the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party.
They argued it would only benefit staffing agencies and companies while doing nothing to bolster the precarious status of temporary workers.
Changes were made to the bill in the Upper House, necessitating the need for another Lower House vote.
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