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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 23 - 29  > Matsushita Plasma Display’s use of independent contractor in disguise is illegal: High court
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2008 April 23 - 29 TOP3 [LABOR]

Matsushita Plasma Display’s use of independent contractor in disguise is illegal: High court

April 26, 2008
The Osaka High Court has totally supported a worker who publicly condemned Japan’s major plasma display maker Matsushita Plasma Display Co. for illegally firing him after directly hiring him for five months.

A high court has totally supported a worker who publicly condemned Japan’s major plasma display maker Matsushita Plasma Display Co. for illegally firing him after directly hiring him for five months.

It ordered the company to pay the plaintiff unpaid wages in back pay and consolation money.

Osaka-based Matsushita Plasma Display is a joint venture established by Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) and Toray.

On April 25, the Osaka High Court overturned a lower court decision and supported Yoshioka Tsutomu’s demand that Matsushita Plasma Display revoke his dismissal.

Yoshioka was a temporary worker at the company, but the company treated him as an independent contractor (so that it could evade Labor Law regulations).

In May 2005, he publicly exposed the company’s illegal use of temporary workers disguised as independent contractors.

Matsushita responded to his condemnation by directly hiring him, but the company fired him in late January 2006 after forcing him into a state of ‘confinement’ so he could not communicate with other plant workers.

The Osaka High Court judge stated that Matsushita’s use of the worker in the guise of independent contractors was illegal.

“The contract between Matsushita Plasma Display and staffing agency/contractor PUSCO was aimed at supplying the plaintiff in violation of the Employment Security Law that prohibits the business of supplying workers as well as the Labor Standards Law that outlaws intermediary exploitation. Even after the Worker Dispatch Law was revised to permit the manufacturing industry to use temporary workers, the Matsushita-PUSCO contract remains illegal. The relationship between the defendant (plasma display maker) and the plaintiff (the dismissed worker) continues to be one between employer and the employee with the former having the obligation to pay him wages.”

The court also ruled that the company isolated the plaintiff from other workers in a confinement in retaliation for exposure of the company’s illegal labor practice.

JCP Policy Commission chair

Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission Chair Koike Akira said that the Osaka High Court ruling is epoch-making. “The JCP’s proposal for the Worker Dispatch Law to be revised to protect the rights of temporary workers has been proven to be right,” he added.
-Akahata, April 26, 2008
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