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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 12 - 18  > Motion-picture company agrees with union to review its policy of arbitrarily cutting retirement allowance
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2007 December 12 - 18 [LABOR]

Motion-picture company agrees with union to review its policy of arbitrarily cutting retirement allowance

December 14, 2007
Motion-picture company Toei Corp. at the end of November agreed with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)-affiliated Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers Union to review its policy of deeply cutting the workers’ retirement allowances which the company set as the condition for their reemployment after retirement.

The Law for Stabilization of Employment for Older Persons revised last year requires all companies to continue to employ workers until they become 65 years old if they wish to work.

In complying with this requirement, Toei forced workers to accept reductions by two-thirds in lump sum benefits to be paid at their retirement if they wish to be rehired. This measure enables the company to cut the retirement allowance by more than five million yen per worker.

Rehired workers also have to accept wages 60 percent lower without pay raises while bearing the same job responsibilities as before retirement.

The labor union conducted bargaining with the company in a bid to stop the implementation of such a system. In April last year, however, Toei changed workplace regulations in order to carry it out without obtaining the union’s consent.

Toei adversely changed workers’ working conditions by changing workplace regulations in anticipation of the enactment of the Labor Contract Law which enables employers to change working conditions without the consent of workers if such changes have “reasonable reasons.”

Four months later, three union members, in representing the union, filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court demanding invalidation of Toei’s new workplace regulations.

With the aim of preventing other companies from taking similar measures, the union founded an association to join forces with other unions, and has collected signatures from 1,119 organizations and held rallies in support of the Toei workers’ lawsuit struggle.

The company came to the negotiating table in July this year and promised that it will change from a two-third cut to half cut in the benefits and apply it retroactively to those workers already rehired. As a result, a union member received an additional 1.25 million yen.

Toei also promised to consider raising the wages for workers when it extends their employment and pay an additional allowance of 20,000 yen a month.

Takahashi Kunio, chair of the Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers Union who is also one of the three plaintiffs, said, “Our achievement has shown that employers cannot adversely change the working conditions without workers’ consent. I believe this will encourage workers’ struggles to prevent the Labor Contract Law from taking effect in workplaces.”
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