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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 10 - 16  > Dockworkers stage 48-hour strike
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2019 April 10 - 16 TOP3 [LABOR]

Dockworkers stage 48-hour strike

April 16, 2019

The National Federation of Dockworkers Unions of Japan (Zenkoku-kowan) on April 14 began a 48-hour strike at ports and harbors nationwide in protest against an employer association move to abolish the current system for determining dockworkers’ minimum wage.

It was the first time in 22 years that the union staged a weekday strike which has considerable impact on port and harbor operations. At Yokohama Port, the No.1 port in Japan in terms of gross tonnage of incoming cargo ships, union workers blocked the gate to piers with a huge “On Strike” banner, which forced cargo ships to anchor offshore near the port.

The employers’ association, the Japan Harbor Transportation Association, in this year’s labor-management wage talks expressed its intent to get rid of the industry-specific minimum wage system under which dockworkers’ minimum wages are determined through a collective bargaining agreement, by claiming that the existing system goes against the Anti-Monopoly Act which is designed to guarantee fair trade and competition.

Criticizing the JHTA move to eliminate industry-specific, collectively-bargained minimum wages as putting profits before workers’ livelihoods, Zenkoku-kowan has taken countermeasures, including the filing of a complaint with the Central Labor Relations Commission and initiating a rolling strike action.

Last week, the labor relations authority ruled that the minimum wage system for dockworkers does not infringe on anti-monopoly rules. However, the JHTA refused to accept the labor authority’s ruling and continues to demand the removal of the industry-specific minimum wage system.

Zenkoku-kowan plans to hold a nine-day strike starting at the end of this month to press the JHTA to maintain the current minimum wage system.

Furthermore, the union demanded that the JHTA urge the Self-Defense Forces to comply with the pre-arrival procedure for cargo vessels which is set by the labor-management agreement.
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