Sega employees sue the company for inhumane handling of workers

Employees of Sega Corporation, a major video gamemaker, have filed a lawsuit against the company for forcing them into a prison-like room or laying them off following their refusal to comply with the company's transfer order.

The lawsuit was filed on April 27 with the Tokyo District Court by 17 workers who are members of the All Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers Unions (JMIU). It is the first time for them to bring management to court for the mistreatment of workers.

Sega's abuse of workers was first reported by Akahata last year. The story of Sega's "quarantine" room captured the attention of commercial media.

Last December, the company decided to change the company affiliation of its employees, who were then on loan to its subsidiaries, from the parent company to its subsidiaries.

Twelve employees, including two disabled IT workers, refused to comply with the decision. Then, the management ordered them to work at the human resource section at the company head office in Ota Ward in Tokyo.

After transferring the workers back to the head office in March 2001, the management confined all of them to a room with a PC and a telephone for each. They were given no assignments but told to just stay there during office hours.

Five other plaintiffs are employees who rejected the company's proposal for an early retirement. As a result, they were told to stay home and their wages were cut by thirty percent.

The plaintiffs are demanding three million yen each in compensation for psychological damage inflicted on them.

Union supporters have rally

Later in the day about 130 people supporting the plaintiffs attended a rally organized by the JMIU.

"Even though we have to endure such an ordeal in the detention room, we'll struggle till we win," a worker said on behalf of the plaintiffs.

In his speech, the head of the supporters network said that by setting up such a "quarantine" room and separating the 17 employees from the rest of the workers, Sega is demonstrating how the company deals with whoever might not comply with restructuring that may result in mass dismissals.

Among the rally participants was Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors member Inoume Miyo.

Before the lawsuit was filed, JCP chair Shii Kazuo received a fax letter from a mother of one of the two computer part assembly workers with a physical disability, in which she, who is also disabled, described how hard it is for her son and her family members to endure the corporate abuse.

Shii visited the son and promised that the JCP would take up the question in the Diet, saying, "What Sega is doing is a double violation of human rights, and it is not permissible." (end)