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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 27 - April 2  > Truck drivers seek wage hike and transport safety
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2019 March 27 - April 2 [LABOR]

Truck drivers seek wage hike and transport safety

March 28, 2019
About 40 trucks decorated with banners reading, "Raise wages for drivers," "Improve working conditions," and "Ensure safe transportation," paraded in demonstration through Tokyo's bay area on March 17, attracting attention from passersby. The All Japan Construction, Transport, and General Workers' Union (Kenkoro) organized this event associated with this year's "shunto" (spring labor offensive).

Excessive hours and intense working conditions have been chronic problems in the trucking industry. According to Kenkoro, 42.3% of surveyed truck drivers work more than 50 overtime hours a month and their annual income amounts to a little more than four million yen on average. The aging of drivers and a shortage of drivers have also been a serious problem.

Teraoka Masanari, 51, who works for a truck company in Hyogo's Himeji City said that he recently spent three days and two nights for delivery and pickup runs in the Kyushu region, and that without returning home he drove to the Kanto region for another three days and two nights. The two nights did not mean sleeping in a bed but in his truck. Just once a week at most, Teraoka relaxes at home. He said he works about 150 hours of "overtime" a month and earns about 5.2 million yen a year.

A woman driver, 49, who works for a freight company in Saitama's Ageo City, has been driving a truck since she was eighteen. She said, "I like this job, but driving long distances is too hard on me. With chronic lower back pain, I have to force myself to continue to work."

The Kenkoro truck subcommittee is demanding a uniform increase in monthly wages by more than 45,000 yen. The drivers' spring labor offensive is still ongoing.

* * *

As a way to end excessive overwork, many trade unions and opposition parties call for a 11-hour interval system between shifts as in EU nations. The EU requires its member countries to ensure that their workers have at least a consecutive 11-hour rest period in each 24-hour working period.

In Japan, the government subsidizes companies which introduced some sort of rest interval regulation. However, subsidized employers account for only 2% of the total. In addition, to receive government subsidies, just a 9-hour interval is required.

Past related articles:
> 3,000 truck drivers but not freight owners punished for overloading [October 17, 2018]
> Truck drivers’ being overworked due to deregulation triggers major accidents [October 31, 2016]
> Truck drivers should be paid for waiting time: court [April 26, 2014]
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