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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 12 - 18  > Unfairly dismissed Japanese Brazilians with help from union fight against Toyota supplier
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2017 April 12 - 18 [LABOR]

Unfairly dismissed Japanese Brazilians with help from union fight against Toyota supplier

April 14, 2017
With help from a union, Japanese Brazilians who suffered unfair dismissals stood up against a Toyota-related company, seeking to return to their workplace.

NHK Spring Co., Ltd. (NHK) is one of Japan’s leading spring manufacturers based in Aichi’s Toyota City, Toyota Motor’s headquarter. It supplies automotive suspension springs and automotive seats to Toyota and other auto makers.

The company between October 2016 and March 2017 dismissed nine Japanese Brazilians who worked at its factory as fixed-term contract workers. The nine workers joined the Japan Metal, Manufacturing, Information and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (JMITU) and began negotiating with the company for the withdrawal of their dismissals.

In the negotiations, it has come to light that the nine workers signed their contracts without being informed about a 59-month limit to their contract periods.

To set unilaterally a ceiling on contract periods of fixed-term workers is a controversial tactic used by employers to evade legal obligations under the Labor Contract Act.

With the 2012 revision, the law incorporated a provision enabling fixed-term workers who work for their employers for more than five years to demand open-ended contracts. Aiming to counter this provision, a move to introduce a 59-month term limit in contracts with non-regular workers has spread among companies. In 2013, NHK Spring Co. placed a term limit up to five years on contracts with its fixed-term employees.

One of the nine Brazilians, Bruno Fernando Hiroshi Yamamoto, 36, was hired in June 2008 on a fixed-term contract. Despite the repeated renewal of his six-month contract, he was dismissed last year on the grounds that his contract period already reached the upper limit.

Yamamoto insisted that he and his Brazilian colleagues were always told to sign their contracts at the time of renewal without receiving any explanation about the term limit. He said, “The company tricked me. I dispute the company’s stance of using workers as disposable labor.”

Officer of the JMITU Aichi local, Ohira Shosa said, “NHK Spring justifies the nine workers’ dismissals by pointing to their ‘signatures’ on the contract documents. However, ‘signatures’ without consent are invalid. So the company should withdraw its dismissals.”

The spring maker refused to respond to an Akahata inquiry stating that the issue is under negotiation.

The Labor Ministry has issued a notice calling on businesses to stop using deceptive tactics to evade legal requirement to offer open-ended contracts to non-regular workers by saying that such an act undermines the Labor Contract Act.

Past related article:
> Employers move to terminate employment contracts before labor law revised [February 22, 2013]

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