Mazda temp-staff practice ruled illegal
Yamaguchi court: Displaced 13 should be regular employees
YAMAGUCHI – The Yamaguchi District Court ruled Wednesday that Mazda Motor Corp.’s temp-staff employment practice is illegal and recognized regular employee status for 13 former temp-staff workers displaced by the automaker.
The rare recognition that displaced temporary workers should be regular employees is expected to affect similar pending lawsuits. The court also ordered Mazda to pay wages that the 13 should have received as regular employees.
The temp-staff worker law requires companies to directly employ workers dispatched by temporary staffing agencies if the employees continue work at the firms for three consecutive years.
Under its temp-staff employment practice, Mazda directly employed temporary workers as “support employees” for just three months after their three consecutive years of service, later shifting their status back to temps.
The practice to effectively maintain workers as temporary staff for more than three years violated the temp-staff worker law, the court said.
The ruling came in a suit filed by 15 plaintiffs — some of whom worked as temporary staff at Mazda’s Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture for up to five years and seven months before being displaced during or after the outbreak of the global financial crisis in December 2008.
The court found 13 of the 15 plaintiffs as subject to the support employee system and recognized them as regular employees.
The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in April 2009, claiming that Mazda had been adjusting the hiring period to be less than three years by temporarily hiring temp-staff employees as regular employees for about three months under the “support employee” system.
The plaintiffs said the system allowed Mazda to “hire skilled temp workers for a long time but fire them whenever they wanted,” calling the act “loophole.”
Meanwhile, Mazda had claimed that temp workers had accepted to work as temp staff and “support employee” positions out of their own volition.
“Mazda had not intended it, and therefore, it does not violate the law,” Mazda’s lawyers said in court.
Mazda called the decision regrettable, adding that it will consider what to do after pouring over the content of the ruling.
In June 2009, the Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectural labor bureaus recommended that Mazda correct the “support employee” system.
Shinji Eto, 48, one of the plaintiffs who had been displaced by Mazda, told the court last April that he just wanted to live a normal life, being paid for his work and occasionally being able to go out for drinks with friends.
“I want to say with pride that producing cars at Mazda is my job,” Eto said. “I just want to live a normal life.”
緊急団交申し入れ Emergency Request for CB
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (“Tozen”) and Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union Tozen ALTs request emergency collective bargaining. We have heard that you instructed your employees, including union members, to undergo drug testing. The need for drug testing is not accepted for an ordinary employment relationship and drug testing of employees in general is accepted only in extreme circumstances. We strongly oppose your casual testing of employees also in light of recent requirements to protect individual privacy, including the passage of Individual Information Law, We therefore ask for cb with the agenda stated below.
The Diet passed a bill Wednesday to amend the Workers Dispatch Law, aiming to improve the working conditions of temporary employees.
The revision forbids dispatch agencies from contracting temporary workers for 30 days or less. Also, employers will be urged to give temp workers the same pay as regular employees if they’re doing the same work.
But the revision will not fully protect nonregular workers. The Democratic Party of Japan’s plan to ban temporary workers from being dispatched to the manufacturing sector was scrapped under pressure from the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.
The DPJ submitted a bill in April 2010 that included a ban on sending nonregular workers to factories after thousands of temps were laid off and left homeless when the slump hit in 2008.
The ban was featured in the party’s platform for the 2009 election.
The dispatch law, which regulates the treatment of temporary workers, was loosened to employers’ advantage when the LDP was still in power.
In 1999, it was revised to allow temporary workers to work in almost all industries except for manufacturing and health care. In 2003, it was amended to let temps work in the manufacturing industry.
These changes allowed manufacturers to lay off temp workers easily when the global financial crunch hit in 2008, and many became jobless and homeless, especially those who had been provided with company housing.
The ratio of nonregular workers in the labor force in 2011 hit a record average high of 35.2 percent, excluding [Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima] the three prefectures severely affected by the March quake and tsunami, up 0.8 point from 2010, according to data compiled by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
The average for the year hit a record for the second straight year, the ministry said Monday.
The rise appears to have stemmed from the growing tendency of firms to hire fewer young people as regular workers and rehire veteran workers on a contract basis after their retirement.
By age bracket, the ratio of nonregular workers came to a record 32.6 percent among people aged between 15 and 34, while that among workers aged 55 and over was 51.5 percent, also an all-time high, the ministry said.
Nonregular workers aged between 15 and 34 numbered 1.7 million, up 20,000, it said.
The government plans to limit the number of second-year students at public primary schools to 35 per class starting in the 2012 academic year, sources said Saturday.
The system was introduced for first-year students at public primary schools in the 2011 school year.
To realize the plan, the government plans to employ about 1,000 more teachers, appropriating the necessary outlay in the fiscal 2012 budget, without revising the current law.
The education and finance ministries have concluded that the government will not face a heavy fiscal burden if the number of teachers can be increased without revising the relevant laws.
On-the-job stress is what pushed an elementary school teacher here to commit suicide in 2004, the Shizuoka District Court ruled on Dec. 15.
Siding with plaintiff Kenji Kimura, 62 — father of teacher Yuriko Kimura, who was 24 at the time of her death — the court ruled against the Fund for Local Government Employees’ Accident Compensation, which had refused to recognize the suicide as a “job accident.”
According to the decision handed down by Presiding Judge Tsutomu Yamazaki, when Yuriko Kimura was hired in April 2004 and put in charge of an unruly class of fourth graders, she was “exposed to continued extreme stress and did not receive appropriate support,” causing her to develop symptoms of depression. Furthermore, “the students’ problematic behavior continued to occur frequently, and disrupted classes became the norm.” The court ruled that the severe depression caused by these circumstances led to her self-immolation later that year after receiving a written complaint from a parent.
The accident compensation fund argued that Kimura had abandoned class discipline and let the students run wild, and otherwise demonstrated a lack of social skills, claiming her subsequent depression was partly her own fault.
The court ruling also stated that the teachers and school administrators who criticized Kimura for poor teaching should have been more supportive, saying the lack of that support was “a very large problem.”
At a press conference after the trial, Kenji Kimura told reporters, “I want a thorough check on what’s going on at the school and measures to be put in place so this doesn’t happen again.”
The government’s rank-and-file employees received on average of about 617,100 yen in winter bonuses, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, as the Democratic Party of Japan-led government failed to make deep cuts in wages.
The average bonus for a government employee is equivalent to 2.02 months pay, which is some 1,900 yen higher than if a 0.23 percent pay cut had been implemented. The authority’s proposal is designed to make up for the gap with pay from the private sector.
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union and its Tozen ALTs Branch recently declared the existence of its Joytalk Shop to management and submitted a slate of 28 collective bargaining demands.
Declaration of New Members, Request for Collective Bargaining
We hope your business is doing well.
We hereby inform you that some of your employees have joined Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (hereafter, “union,”) and Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union Tozen ALTs (hereafter, “local”). From this day forth, your company is obligated to negotiate with the union and local regarding union members’ employment, working conditions and all items related to working conditions.
Our union and local will negotiate in good faith in order to establish a positive labor-management relationship. Therefore, we ask that you promptly agree to collective bargaining with the union and local without committing any unfair labor practices. We also add that refusing collective bargaining is an unfair labor practice in violation of Article 7 of Trade Union Law.
We ask for collective bargaining regarding the demands listed below at the below date, time and venue.
We understand that it is impossible to discuss all 28 demands at the first collective bargaining session. We would like to negotiate these demands with you carefully and thoroughly. Union members hope to build and maintain a positive relationship with management based on long-term job security.
安定した雇用について On job security…
1. Management eliminate temporary employment status for all union members, recognizing open-ended employment with no deterioration in working conditions in order to give members job security.
事前協議について On prior consultation …
2. Management inform the local and union well in advance of any changes to working conditions, management, terms of employment or shugyo kisoku work rules. Management negotiate and obtain agreement with union and local before implementing any such changes.
3. Management inform, negotiate with and obtain agreement from union and local before any transfers, disciplinary measures or dismissal (including all forms of employment severance against the wishes of the employee) of any union member.
4. Management inform and make a mutual arrangement with local members before visiting schools to observe classes etc. and that any such visit shall have a minimum of one month’s advance notice.
5. Management obtain consent from any union member before scheduling work on weekends.
透明性について On transparency …
6. Management provide union and local with Japanese language and English language versions of their shugyo kisoku official work rules.
7. Management immediately disclose and explain each year’s financial documents, including profit-loss statement and balance sheet.
8. Management immediately give to the union and local a copy of the contract between company and all school boards where members work.
9. Management explain in writing to the union and local the terms of the contract (“haken” or “gyomu itaku”) for each member, and how the type of contract affects the member’s work.
金銭要求 Financial Demands
10. Management pay full actual transportation costs to all members.
11. Management increase the salary of union members to ¥290,000 per month.
12. Management count the training days forced upon members during July as additional working days to be paid at an additional ¥15,000 per day and refund full actual transportation costs.
13. Management pay a full salary for August 2011
14. Management refrain from deducting any wages from any member who participates in collective bargaining during work hours.
15. Management refund all costs for medical checks required of union members.
他の要求事項 Other Demands
18. Management give 10 days paid annual leave to union members who have worked for six months (12 after 18 months, etc. according to Labor Standards Law) to be used at their own discretion, and not as management dictates.
19. A substitute ALT is not sent to a school if there are no lessons.
20. Management use teacher evaluations only to help teachers further improve their performance and not let evaluations affect pay. All evaluations submitted by the school to the company are shown to the union in their original form.
21. Management change our payday from the 25th of the month to the 15th of every month, to coincide with monthly payments such as rent and utilities.
22. Management assign teachers with experience to run training sessions.
23. Management arrange for all union members to have lockers at their workplaces (schools).
24. Management explain about their current shakai hoken deductions
労使の信頼関係維持について Maintaining Relationship of Trust between Management and Union
25. Management comply with all articles of all labor laws, particularly Trade Union Law, and refrain from discriminating against or harassing any union member.
26. Management permit a union representative be present at all members’ meetings with management.
27. Management permit the union and local to conduct a 30-minutes union orientation, including passing out information, at all training sessions. Management inform the union at least four weeks in advance of the date, time and venue for all such training sessions.
28. Management sign a labor-management agreement with the union and local on the above demands.
Stress, depression behind twentyfold 10-year increase in resignations of first-year educators
The number of first-year teachers who left their job for health reasons has increased twentyfold over the past 10 years, with most citing apparent emotional issues, an education ministry survey has found.
According to the survey, conducted on 25,743 public school teachers who began working in fiscal 2010, 101 voluntarily left within a year for “health” reasons, mainly depression and stress, compared with five in fiscal 2000.
Ninety-one of the 101 who quit were suffering emotional issues such as depression, the ministry said Tuesday.
“We believe (those teachers) suffered from a gap between reality and what they imagined before they start working. . . . Some were believed to have trouble dealing with difficult parents. Some may have suffered from human relationships at their workplaces,” education ministry official Masashi Izumino told The Japan Times on Wednesday.
Starting in fiscal 2009, the ministry began investigating the mental health of teachers who quit within a year. In the first survey, 83 of 86 who quit did so reportedly due to such apparent psychological troubles.
Of the 91 teachers last year who quit for such reasons, Tokyo had the highest number, with 29, followed by Chiba Prefecture with six and Aichi Prefecture with five.
Stress has been an issue not only among new teachers but veterans as well in recent years.
According to an education ministry report last year, 8,627 public school teachers took a leave of absence for health reasons in fiscal 2009. Of these, 5,458, or 63.3 percent, did so due to psychological problems.
The number of teachers taking temporary leave for mental health reasons has been steadily rising since fiscal 2000, the report said. While 0.24 percent of public school teachers took a leave of absence in fiscal 2000, the percentage rose to 0.60 in fiscal 2009, it said.