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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 26 - April 1  > Toyota workers' 'voluntary' activities are working hour
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2008 March 26 - April 1 [LABOR]

Toyota workers' 'voluntary' activities are working hour

March 28, 2008
Labor Minister Masuzoe Yoichi said that his ministry will comply with the recent court ruling that the time an employee uses to attend meetings of an informal group in the company should be counted as work time.

He made the remark on March 27 in response to Japanese Communist Party representative Koike Akira the House of Councilors Labor Committee meeting.

Toyota and many other major companies are forcing their employees to take part in informal groups, including the QC (quality control) circle, on a “voluntary” basis.

The Labor Ministry has long maintained that time spent in those voluntary activities should not be counted as working hours.

In November 2007, in a lawsuit over the death of a Toyota Motor worker Uchino Ken’ichi who had been obliged to spend a lot of time on the company’s QC circle, the Nagoya District Court ruled that he died from overwork.

It ruled that working hours spent by workers in activities of informal groups by order of the manager should be counted as working hours.

In response to the court decision, the local labor standards inspection office concluded that Uchino had worked 150 hours overtime in three months, and provided his family with the survivor’s pension.

JCP Koike pointed out that at Toyota about 44,000 workers in Japan and 46,000 abroad are participating in the QC program and that activity in such an ‘informal group’ is hidden forced overtime work without pay. The ministry is responsible for providing strict instructions in line with the Nagoya District Court judgment.”
- Akahata, March 28, 2008
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