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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 4 - 10  > Independent contractors for TEPCO subsidiary recognized as ‘workers’ specified in Labor Union Law
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2020 March 4 - 10 [LABOR]

Independent contractors for TEPCO subsidiary recognized as ‘workers’ specified in Labor Union Law

March 7, 2020

The Tokyo Metropolitan Labor Relations Commission on March 4 recognized electric meter replacement contractors for a Tokyo Electric Power Company subsidiary as “workers” specified in the Labor Union Law, and ordered the company to respond to the union’s collective bargaining request.

The labor relations board also ordered the company, Watt Line Service, to post a notice promising to not repeat its refusal to negotiate with the union.

The union was organized in 2018 as a branch of the National Union of General Workers (Zenkoku-ippan) which is affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren). In December 2018, it requested Watt Line, a 100 percent subsidiary of TEPCO-related heavy electricity machinery company Takaoka Toko Co., Ltd, to hold negotiations with the aim of winning decent working conditions and the withdrawal of a contract termination of a union member.

The union’s request, however, was rejected by the company. As the reason for this, Watt Line insisted that independent contractors are not workers in their definition.

The Tokyo labor relations authority acknowledged that contract workers constitute an essential part in the company’s structure and perform their jobs under the company’s instruction at locations arranged by the company. The labor authority clarified Watt Service contractors’ status as “workers” specified by the Labor Union Law.

Furthermore, the labor board judged that Watt Line refused to hold negotiations with the union in an attempt to ignore the union’s presence and weaken the union.

Following the Tokyo labor board’s decision, the Zenkoku-ippan branch on March 5 submitted to TEPCO a petition demanding that the utility instruct Watt Line to comply with the labor relations authority’s order and stop its union bashing tactics.

Past related article:
> Independent contractors for TEPCO subsidiary unionized [January 6, 2019]

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