Two Nestle workers win overall victory in court

The Kobe District Court on May 9 ordered major food maker Nestle Japan Holdings to revoke orders which the company issued to two employees to move to a distant plant in disregard of the workers' need to take care of family members. The court also told the company to pay them wages for the period they were barred from the company because of their refusal to comply with the transfer orders.

The court ruled that the disadvantages the two employees would experience are far beyond the level that is socially acceptable, considering their need to take care of sick family members, and that the transfer order is an abuse of authority.

The court also criticized Nestle Japan for violating Article 26 of the Law concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave. The law obliges employers to take account of the situation of employees with children or caring for adult family members.

In May 2003, Nestle Japan unilaterally closed a gift box operation at the Himeji plant in Hyogo Prefecture, and forced all 60 workers to either move to a factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is more than 700 kilometers away, or to submit a resignation. As a result, 49 workers chose to leave the company and nine accepted the transfer.

However, two workers hoped to stay at the Himeji plant on the grounds that they must care for bed-ridden loved ones at home.

The following month, the company barred these workers from the plant. In November the same year, the two filed a lawsuit against the company, demanding a withdrawal of the unfair transfer orders. For two years, they traveled to the plant every morning to call for their return to work.
- Akahata, May 10, 2005

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