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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 27 - June 2  > Agency worker at Honda subsidiary: Knowing nothing about workers' rights, we are treated like doormats
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2020 May 27 - June 2 [LABOR]

Agency worker at Honda subsidiary: Knowing nothing about workers' rights, we are treated like doormats

June 1, 2020
"If they are not aware of workers' rights, temporary agency workers are easily treated like doormats," said a man in his 50s who worked at a Honda Motor subsidiary factory in Kakuda City in Miyagi Prefecture. He was laid off and evicted from a company dormitory. His 26-year-old son living with him was at home following the temporary closure of a restaurant he worked for due to coronavirus concerns. They were both driven into a desperate corner.

The man became a temporary agency worker after he lost his house and job following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In the summer of 2018, as a temporary agency worker sent from a staffing agency, he began working at auto parts maker "Keihin" whose major shareholder is Honda Motor. He did inspections of automotive parts at the hourly wage of 1,200 yen. In late March, his contract was not renewed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he was forced to vacate the company dorm.

The man remembered that the Japanese Communist Party in the wake of the 2011 disaster held consultations with victims staying in temporary housing, and he ventured to seek advice from the JCP about his dismissal. A local JCP committee member and Yashima Sadao, JCP Kakuda City assemblyperson, helped him move to city-provided housing. Also, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) local in Miyagi Prefecture supported him in negotiations with the staffing agency and succeeded in having the agency acknowledge that his dismissal was at the convenience of the company and agree to pay him compensation for loss of earnings.

The man said, "We would have become homeless. The JCP and the union helped us a great deal. If we keep silent, we would be forced to take 'self-responsibility' and would easily be dismissed. I feel glad that I went to the JCP and the union for help."

Murata Koji, lawyer who specializes in labor and employment issues, pointed out, "Through the staffing service industry, the Labor Ministry in late March requested that employment of agency workers be maintained and that the expiration date of eviction from company dormitories be extended. However, most companies do not take these requests seriously."

JCP member of the House of Representatives Miyamoto Toru on May 11 in the Diet demanded that the central government instruct all employers to not use the coronavirus situation as an excuse to dismiss temporary agency workers.

Temporary workers tend to hesitate to raise their voices against employers due to their insecure status. It is, however, important for workers to join unions and stand together. The JCP, labor unions, and people's lawyers will fully support them.

Past related article:
> Role of labor unions vital to overcome corona-induced calamity [May 4, 2020]
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