LEP youth left to fend for themselves form International Labour Union of Bhutan in Japan

A group of Bhutanese youth that are currently in Japan through the  ‘Learn and Earn Program’ (LEP) have officially formed an International Labour Union of Bhutan (ILUB) on 1 September in Japan.

Representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO), Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery and Manufacturing Workers (JAM), and IndustriaALL attended the launch of ILUB and congratulated the members for successfully forming the union.

IndistriALL supported the formation of the union.

Jaganath Koirala, who went to Japan through LEP, was unanimously elected as the president of the ILUB. He said the formation of ILUB will help the youth facing any sort of problems related to their workplace.

It will also help the Bhutanese youth who are struggling to renew their work visa, and the union will work as a platform to find decent jobs available in Japan.

“The main reason for forming the union is that many Bhutanese youth cannot find a decent job in Japan, which is why so many have returned home. Bhutanese in Japan are segregated in different states of Japan. So this made us realize that it is important to form a labour union to avoid unforeseen problems, and also to come together to support each other when needed,” Jaganath Koirala said.

ILUB aims to develop reliable human resources, support the economically weak section of the society, vulnerable people, develop and diversify skills.

Promote collective bargaining and strive to reduce violation of human rights, create greater opportunities for all workers, and to secure decent employment, to strengthen healthy relationship between employers and employees and carrying out the labour supply.

“We will be focusing on introducing our Bhutanese youths in different organizations and providing them with a decent and sustainable employment. And also to protect our innocent Bhutanese youths from the dishonest brokers who take commission to get them jobs, like we were also the victims where we had to pay commissions to the brokers,” said Jaganath.

ILUB will create awareness so that the Bhutanese workers are encouraged to join the labour union that is legally established to protect individual Bhutanese facing problems, such as unfair treatment, not being paid salary, abuse, and violation of human rights in the work places.

“We are hoping that all Bhutanese will join our union. We have 11 members and three Japanese nationals, and it is open to any nationalities,” he said.

Internationally recognized human rights lawyer Souichu Ibusuki and others, like a congressperson from Ehime State of Government in Japan, are serving as advisors to guide the ILUB.

Investigations by media houses, CSOs and legal cases have shown that the LEP program in Japan is used to ruthlessly exploit debt-ridden students so that they can make money for Japanese language schools and agents while not really being able to learn Japanese or earn money.

The Union will provide a degree of protection to the Bhutanese students after the inability of the government to help them.

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