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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 23 - May 6  > Business world wants a no-overtime-pay system, inviting more stress-related deaths
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2014 April 23 - May 6 [LABOR]

Business world wants a no-overtime-pay system, inviting more stress-related deaths

April 23 and 24, 2014
The business community is once again proposing the system of no overtime pay it had given up during the first Abe government, which will potentially increase the number of death from overwork.

At a governmental meeting on April 22 chaired by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, a representative of corporate executives requested the government to consider abolishing the restrictions on working hours and to introduce a system that will allow employers to end paying overtime wages.

The proposal states it will first be applied to high-income earners making more than 10 million yen a year and later to the younger generation overall.

The proposal calls on employers to use the system on a supposedly voluntary basis or defer to employees’ wishes. Given that corporations have overwhelmingly stronger powers than workers in terms of personnel matters and performance evaluations, it is highly possible that the workers would have no choice but to accept the system and work long hours.

The Labor Standards Act sets a ceiling of 8 hours/day and 40-hours/week on working hours in order to ensure decent living conditions for workers, and requires companies to pay extra for overtime.

However, business circles are seeking to leave the management of operations and healthcare to individual workers’ efforts and pay wages based on their job content and accomplishment irrespective of the number of hours they work.

Such a performance-based system without overtime pay will totally destroy the existing work rules and will only bring about limitless long working hours.

* * *

On the following day at an Upper House hearing, Japanese Communist Party member Tatsumi Kotaro spoke up against the introduction of the policy of eliminating the restrictions on working hours and allowing employers to pay “zero” overtime.

Arguing that the spread of long hours of work has brought a rise in deaths from overwork as well as mental disorders, Tatsumi emphasized that corporations should fulfill their social responsibilities.

He pointed out that a decline in individual earnings since late 1990 has been a major factor contributing to the ongoing deflation and said, “Cuts in overall labor costs resulting from the deregulation of working hours will have no role in overcoming deflation at all.”

Vice Chairman of the Board of Toshiba Corporation Sasaki Norio, a witness, had to admit to what the JCP Dietmember just stated and said, “That’s true. Workers have been receiving smaller salaries.”
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