JCP backs steel workers struggle against all-work and no-off system

Inspired by the Japanese Communist Party, workers at Sumitomo Metal
Industries Wakayama Steel Plant are fighting back against corporate
restructuring which is depriving them of holidays and part of their wages
and even costing some of them.

At the steel plant in Wakayama City in the Kansai district, 3,400
employees are directly affected by restructuring. The plant, however, is in
full operation with a monthly production of 50,000 tons of middle-sized
seamless pipes.

The workplace is always short of hands as a result of the corporate
restructuring, and workers are told to work in turns even during lunch hours
so as not to force the machines to stop.

Notwithstanding the busy operation, every employee is asked to take a day
off every month with a 50 percent cut in their daily wage.

On average, the workers at the steel plant had only two and a half day
paid holidays from April to August.

JCP House of Councilors member Inoue Miyo in a Upper House Health, Labor,
and Welfare Committee meeting said that the compulsory day-off despite the
increasing production and work load is a method of cutting costs for wages.
She demanded that the system of compulsory day-off be ended and appropriate
personnel positioning to enable every employee to fully use their paid
holidays be achieved.

HL&W Ministry Labor Standards Bureau Director Hibi Toru replied that the
ministry will instruct corporations to draw up production and manning plans
on the assumption that every worker completely uses one's paid holidays.

The Sumitomo Metal Industries in the past also came under fire in the
parliament for its illegal pressure on workers to be transferred.

The large-scale corporate restructuring which the SMI Osaka-based head
office is now carrying out is to make 9,000 transferees, young and old,
resign from the company and then be rehired by affiliate companies at 60 to
80 percent of their present wages.

At the Wakayama steel plant, 3,400 workers will come under this program,
along with an advance retirement at age 59 for 1,200 workers.

In interviews with workers on early retirement, the company would
intimidate them, saying, "If you love the company and your juniors, we want
you to retire. You might not get the retirement allowance if business goes

It is obvious that the company regards the "consent" of the worker as a
mere formality and that the company pressure will force him into retirement,
overriding his right to make a decision freely.

On the workers side, a change is taking place. As the restructuring at
Sumitomo Metal Industries has been revealed to be illegal and contrary to
court judgments, many workers have the confidence to refuse company offers
for early retirement or transfers.

A 59-year-old male employee said to an Akahata reporter that he is
assured of his refusal to retire before age because the JCP questions in the
parliament showed that the company argument does not hold legal water.

The JCP-Sumitomo Metal Wakayama Committee is calling on those employees
who have consented to be transferred to fight against massive wage cuts.