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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 February 13 - 19  > Japanese CAs fighting in court against KLM's unilateral dismissals
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2019 February 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Japanese CAs fighting in court against KLM's unilateral dismissals

February 18, 2019
Japanese cabin attendants of the national flag carrier of the Netherlands, whose contracts were unfairly discontinued, have joined the Japan Cabin Crew Union (JCU) and are now fighting in court to demand withdrawal of their dismissals.

Nineteen former CAs on December 26, 2018 filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, claiming that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had unilaterally terminated their contracts for the purpose of evading the Japanese labor regulations which require employers to offer open-ended contracts to fixed-term contract workers with more than five years of service. Nine more ex-CAs are expected to join the case as plaintiffs.

According to the plaintiffs, the Dutch airliner in July of last year started to end their contracts in sequence. Neither application guidelines nor job offer letters specified they would be employed on fixed-term contracts and so they became aware of their non-regular status according to the company's work rules after joining KLM.

There used to be 65 Japanese KLM CAs before last July. They have been playing important roles ensuring the safety of passengers. Approximately, 400,000 passengers a year use Amsterdam-Japan flights.

In 2014, at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a fire broke out on a flight to Kansai International Airport. As most Japanese passengers did not speak Dutch, Japanese CAs prevented a panic by calmly announcing that there is no need to evacuate. Another time, when a Japanese passenger suddenly became ill while on a flight, a Japanese CA judged the condition to be critical and had the plane make an emergency stop, saving the passenger's life.

Regarding the reason for the dismissals, KLM explained to the JCU that work permits according to Dutch law can be issued only to fixed-term employees. However, the Dutch government in response to an inquiry made by Japanese Communist Party member of the Upper House Yamashita Yoshiki said that there is no such legal stipulation in Holland.

The JCU stated that stable employment is essential for flight crews to gain experience to become able to make emergency judgement calls, and that KLM should take responsibility to ensure stable employment and safe flight operations.

Past related article:
> Cabin crew union urges Labor Ministry to instruct KLM to comply with Japan’s labor law [February 15, 2018]
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