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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 5 - 11  > Stage performers achieve improvement in working conditions
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2007 December 5 - 11 [LABOR]

Stage performers achieve improvement in working conditions

December 5, 2007
Acrobatic stage performers who formed their union a half year ago to fight against arbitrary wage cuts, on December 4 announced that they have reached an agreement with their employer to significantly improve their working conditions.

The “Muscle Musical” branch of the Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers Unions (Eien-Roren), which is affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), has conducted negotiations with Digital 9 Co., a promotion company.

The company treats them not as regular workers but as self-employed individuals and gives them one-year contracts. As a result, though the performers have to work up to 2,500 hours a year, they do not receive overtime pay. They have to pay for massage therapy and traveling expenses. They are not eligible for the work-related accident compensation insurance. To participate in overseas performances arranged by the company, they have had to pay for expenses during their stays themselves.

Some “Muscle Musical” members formed a union in April to improve their working conditions in their hope to make their shows more attractive. The company, however, has coerced union members to leave the union and forcibly excluded union members from the stage. The union has continued to wage legal struggles by filing a lawsuit and lodging complaints to the relevant labor relations commission.

As a result, the company has apologized for the unfair labor practice and agreed to pay unpaid wages as well as expenses during overseas performances. In addition, the company will improve working conditions by easing the performers’ tight schedules and paying their travel expenses.

In return, the union accepted that the three union members who have been barred from the stage would not renew their contracts.

“Muscle Musical” Branch Chair Isomae Masaaki said, “Thanks to fans and supporters, we have reached this agreement. It is a pity that three of us cannot return to the stage. But we are pleased that we have succeeded in signing the agreement to better all performers’ working conditions.”

Eien-Roren Chair Takahashi Kunio said, “In the theatrical industry, many workers are deprived of their rights. The fight of the ‘Muscle Musical’ performers will encourage workers who are working under similar conditions and help to establish decent work rules in our industry.” - Akahata, December 5, 2007
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