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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 February 11 - 18  > Aviation workers exchange views on ways to improve working conditions
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2020 February 11 - 18 [LABOR]

Aviation workers exchange views on ways to improve working conditions

February 18, 2020
The Japan Federation of Aviation Workers’ Unions (Kokuren) on February 15 held a seminar in Tokyo to exchange views on ways to improve working conditions in Japan’s civil aviation industry in order to protect workers’ health which is vital to aviation safety.

Speaking on behalf of the organizer, Kokuren Chair Chikamura Kazuya said, “In this year’s spring wage talks, it’s highly likely that airline companies will use the coronavirus crisis to justify their reluctance to offer higher wages and meet union demands. We need to work hard to win better working conditions to ensure air safety.”

Union workers working different types of airline jobs such as ground handling took the floor.

A representative of a ground handlers’ union pointed out that an expansion of the capacity of Tokyo Haneda and Narita airports in association with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games will impose heavier workloads on ground service workers and exacerbate labor shortages. He said, “At a time of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics 56 years ago, four ground handlers committed suicide due to severe lower back pain and one hundred workers had back operations. The urgent need now is to improve working conditions and solve the understaffing problem.”

Saito Keiichi, who heads the Japan Airlines Labor Union (JLU) which organizes JAL ground crew, talked about working conditions of aircraft line maintenance staff. He pointed out that maintenance workers at JAL hardly have days off and those who work at ANA are frequently forced to work for more than 14 hours. Saito pointed out the necessity of improving working conditions during night shifts which includes the implementation of a short nap.

Advisor to Kokuren Okudaira Takashi reported on the fatigue risk management system which is applied to commercial airline pilots under the Transport Ministry’s direction. This system requires airlines to remove fatigued pilots from duty. Okudaira expressed his hope that similar to other countries where trade unions participate in the FRM system, in Japan, unions will play a role in this system.
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