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Toyota forces non-regular workers to perform evoluntaryf activities


Toyota Motor forces its fixed-term contract workers to take part in QC (quality control)-Circle activities and other in-company informal groups, which are ostensibly run by workers as part of their gvoluntary activitiesh.


The QC-Circle is part of the gkaizenh campaign that Toyota imposes on workers to gimprove quality and increase productivity.h


QC-Circle participants set respective goals, such as gincreasing outputh or greducing defects,h and make suggestions regarding how to achieve them. They are called upon to make reports four times a year and submit them to their section manager.


The Toyota personnel department in a document makes it clear that workers on fixed-term contracts are advised to take part in the QC-Circle and other informal groups in the company. In workplaces, group leaders are telling fixed-term contract workers that git will be good for them to take part in the QC-Circle if they want to be employed as full-time workers in the future.h


A Toyota worker said, gFull-time workers and fixed-term contract workers attend a 30-minute meeting four times a month. Those two hours are paid. But group leaders spend 4 or 5 hours at home making preparations for meetings and writing reports without pay.h


He also said, gIf Toyota wants fixed-term contract workers to participate in the QC-Circle, it should give them full-time positions. To begin with, all those fixed-term contract workers who can work in the same way as full-time workers should be employed as full-time workers. Workers should be paid for jobs under the name of evoluntary activitiesf.h 


Fixed-term contract workers are paid only about one-third as much as regular workersf. They are usually on a contract for less than three years.


In the lawsuit filed by the widow of Uchino Kenichi, a former Toyota worker who died at the age of 30 from overwork, the Nagoya District Court acknowledged that participation in QC-Circle activities should be recognized as part of paid work.


Labor Minister Masuzoe Yoichi, in response to Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors member Koike Akirafs probing questioning, said that the ministry will comply with the court ruling.

- Akahata, April 22, 2008



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