Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
Blog [Japanese]
HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 January 23 - 29  > Court orders the government to pay compensation for unfair labor practice
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2008 January 23 - 29 [LABOR]

Court orders the government to pay compensation for unfair labor practice

January 24, 2008
The Tokyo District Court on January 23 ordered the government to pay compensation for discrimination against union members who opposed the 1987 privatization and break-up of Japanese National Railways (JNR).

When JNR was privatized and broken up into Japan Railway (JR) companies 20 years ago, the successor companies refused to accept former JNR workers who wanted to be employed because they were members of the National Railway Workers Union (NRU or Kokuro) and the All National Railway Locomotive Engineers’ Union (Zendoro).

Zendoro members and 58 bereaved families in Hokkaido filed the lawsuit demanding compensation against the independent administrative agency established to undertake the liquidation of JNR.

In Hokkaido, at that time, nearly 100 percent of workers who belonged to a union that was in favor of the privatization obtained positions at the privatized successor company. In contrast, only 28 percent of Zendoro members were accepted. All workers who left Zendoro were employed.

Recognizing that opposition to the privatization had a disadvantageous effect on some union workers, Judge Samura Hiroyuki ordered the state to pay 5.5 million in compensation to each plaintiff, saying JNR was obliged to hold its neutrality as a public sector employer, and discriminatory treatment of JNR workers amounted to violating workers’ rights to equal treatment.

This is the second Tokyo District Court ruling to acknowledge unfair labor practices on the part of JNR, the first being in the Kokuro case in 2005. The government, which is responsible for the JNR privatization, is called upon to accept a complete settlement.

At the news conference later in the day, representatives of the plaintiffs, their lawyers, and the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) stated, “The current acknowledgement of the government’s (JNR’s) unfair labor practice is clearer than ever. We will urge the government to accept a political settlement.”

Plaintiff Sato Katsumaro said, “I publicly emphasized that privatization is not in the interest of workers and the general public. I am glad that the court has recognized the validity of my argument. I will urge the government to settle the dispute.”
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved