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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 26 - April 1  > Court says changing full-time employees’ status to that of contract workers is illegal
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2008 March 26 - April 1 [LABOR]

Court says changing full-time employees’ status to that of contract workers is illegal

March 26, 2008
A court on March 25 ruled that it is illegal for a Tokyo-based sports club operator to change the status of 20 full-time golf caddies to one of contract employees with substantial pay cuts.

The Tokyo High Court ordered Tobu Sports to pay the women workers about 130 million yen to make up the difference they have lost as a result of the change.

The plaintiffs are members of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Union (JMIU) Tobu Sports Branch.

In 2002, Tobu Sports forced the caddies to agree to work on a fixed-term contract with a 24-percent pay cut as part of a restructuring plan of its parent company, Tobu Railway. In imposing the status change on them, the company said that there would be no substantial changes in wages.

The high court pointed out that the change of these workers’ status was not necessary because the corporate group was not in a condition that would make it difficult for it to continue doing business. It stated that the company’s procedure was so faulty that the court cannot recognize the change as a product of a labor-management agreement on changing the working conditions of employees.

JMIU Tobu Sports Branch Secretary Asami Kazuko at a news conference said, “The caddies have been on furlough for more than a year. We urge the company to immediately bring them back to their workplace.”

Lawyer Sasaki Shin’ichi appreciated the ruling for stating that employers cannot change their workers’ status without providing them with a detailed explanation and receiving their consent. “This ruling will encourage an increasing number of workers who are facing similar situations,” he said.
- Akahata, March 26, 2008
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