Labor counseling center helps workers solve various problems

The Tokyo Center for Working People's Lives and Health will mark its first anniversary on April 17. About 20 cases of work-related accidents or illnesses are brought in each month by workers or their family members to the Center for counseling.

The Center has a membership of 48 organizations, including trade unions with a membership of about 500,000, and some 30 individuals, including lawyers, scholars, and researchers.

The Center holds study meetings and training sessions for the prevention of work-related accidents and occupational diseases and gives assistance to workers in applying for benefits for work-related accidents or other compensation. It also makes representations to administrative authorities. Cases of karoshi (death from overwork) and karoshi-induced suicides are often brought in through trade unions for advice.

In the case of a Dai Nippon Printing worker with asthma who died of a heart attack while he was working overtime, the Center helped a great deal in substantiating the allegation that the death was caused by the company's negligence in taking precautions. His family and the company reached a court-mediated settlement last October.

A female employee of a department store suffered a depression from always being told to increase her sales, and had to quit. Introduced by her mother, the Center helped her to find a job by making it clear that the blame is on the stress arising from the company's performance-rating system.

A vice director of the Center said, "Corporations impose on workers excessive workloads but neglect to give necessary technical or other guidance, which causes psychological stress in the workers, and eventually to the outbreak of a disease. In order for the Center to develop as a forum at which workers can confide in, we want to increase the number of consultants." (end)

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