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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 15 - 21  > Tokyo-based taxi firm uses the coronavirus crisis as pretext to force 600 drivers to accept early retirement
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2020 April 15 - 21 TOP3 [LABOR]

Tokyo-based taxi firm uses the coronavirus crisis as pretext to force 600 drivers to accept early retirement

April 12 & 16, 2020

Workers in the Tokyo-based taxi company Royal Limousine Group are fighting against the company plan to force 600 drivers to take early retirement by using the spread of the coronavirus as a pretext.

A member union of the All-Japan Federation of Automobile Transport Workers' Unions (Jiko-soren/ATU), which is affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), suggested that the company utilize the government-provided employment adjustment subsidies system so that it can maintain the employment of the entire workforce. However, the company on April 15 refused this suggestion.

Following this negative response, the union decided to resist the company’s early retirement pressure and demand that drivers' wages be guaranteed. Union members said, "Unless we sign an early retirement agreement, we are workers of the Royal Limousine Group. Even if the company decides to stop its business, it still must guarantee workers' wages." They said they will call on more drivers in car-hire firms of the Royal Limousine Group to join in the fight.

All drivers learned of the "dismissals" from media reports on April 7 for the first time. However, no explanation was given at roll-call on the following morning, creating anxiety and rumors among workers.

It was not until April 11 that the group's president, Kaneko Kensaku, told them that they will lose their jobs at the convenience of the company, but he did not use the word "dismissals". He asked all of them to sign the "retirement agreement" so that he will not have to pay them 30 days' payment in lieu of notice. At the same time, he said he will rehire them after he successfully resumes his business. However, this does not mean a guarantee of reemployment.

Kaneko said, "The amount of unemployment benefits is larger than the leave allowance," speaking as if the early retirement would be advantageous. However, those who are over 65 years old are not eligible for monthly unemployment benefits, and some fall short of the required length of employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Many drivers criticized the president, saying, "He does not want to pay even a single yen."

In collective bargaining, the Jiko-soren union protested against the company's tactic to force through "agreed retirements", citing measures taken to keep drivers by major taxi firms. In these companies, according to Jiko-soren, half of the vehicles are now out of service and drivers work in rotation while receiving leave compensation. Jiko-soren suggested that the Royal Limousine Group use the government-provided subsidies system to keep the 600 drivers on the payroll.

The tactic the company is using is in violation of the “four requirements for dismissals for downsizing”: necessity of dismissal, efforts to avoid dismissal, rationality in selecting who is to be dismissed, and engage in discussions with workers.

Past related article:
> Protect workers from unfair dismissals under coronavirus outbreak [April 10, 2020]
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