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Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

Temp support groups call for urgent steps


Staff writer

Support groups proposed several steps to the government and opposition on Monday to strengthen the safety net for laid-off temp workers ahead of an expected increase in their number at the end of March.

"The recent temp-worker layoffs show how people can fall into an unstable situation under these circumstances without a safety net once the economy turns downward," said Makoto Yuasa, the head of the support groups, citing insufficient employment insurance and difficulty in receiving welfare benefits as weaknesses in the current system.

Yuasa, who also works for the nonprofit organization Moyai Independent Life Support Center, said there are three proposals that need to be put into place by March.

They are based on the experience of the tent village in Tokyo's Hibiya Park where hundreds of people stayed around the turn of the year after losing their jobs and housing.

One is to create more shelters across the nation for people who have lost their jobs and homes, and to set up information centers to help them find work and solve other problems.

The second proposal is to keep a close watch on companies so they do not cut temp workers illegally or unfairly.

The third is to establish a fund by raising money from companies and individuals to strengthen employment insurance and widen the number of the insured.

Companies need to contribute because they are the ones that have been cutting temp workers after profiting from them, Yuasa said.

The groups put the proposals to Hideaki Omura, a vice minister at the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry, and opposition party lawmakers.

Opposition party members said they will raise the matter in the Diet.

About 70 of the hundreds of out-of-work people who had been staying at the Hibiya Park tent village have not found jobs and are now moving from facility to facility seeking shelter, and some end up staying at hospitals, according to the support groups.



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