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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 December 16 - 22  > Sony uses COVID-19 recession as excuse to cut jobs while benefiting from stay-at-home economy
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2020 December 16 - 22 [LABOR]

Sony uses COVID-19 recession as excuse to cut jobs while benefiting from stay-at-home economy

December 19, 2020

Major corporations, including Hitachi, Mitsubishi Motor, and Sony intend to carry out downsizing measures by using the COVID-19 recession as excuse, though they have sufficient financial strength to maintain jobs during the pandemic.

Sony Engineering Corporation (SEG), a group company of Japan’s electronics giant Sony, in mid-October held an online meeting with the participation of 200 engineers working from home. At the meeting, the company announced its plan to slash the workforce by offering an early retirement package. The plan will target workers who have held their jobs for more than 10 years and whose age is 45 years old and over.

SEG plays a key role in Sony’s product development and is famous for various products using unique technologies such as canal type earphones and an LED light system which uses wireless technology to synchronize an unlimited number of LED units within a certain distance.

Soon after the announcement of the plan, targeted workers were called to the office for individual interviews. One of the targeted workers said, “In my first interview, I refused to take the early retirement offer due to the uncertainties of finding a new job under the pandemic situation. However, the company insists on holding individual interviews to push me to accept early retirement.”

Sony’s interim results as of September 30, 2020 show that the Sony group earned 546.1 billion yen in operating income, a record high for a six-month period, thanks to the growth in the stay-at-home economy during the pandemic. The amount of its internal reserves increased to an all-time high of 5.25 trillion yen in September from 4.4 trillion yen in March. SEG workers, who are subjected to the company’s job-cut scheme, angrily said, “Even under the pandemic recession, the company gains huge profits and plans to hire new workers. So, what is the real reason for the company’s restructuring?”

National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi referred to a Supreme Court ruling recognizing forcible retirement as illegal. He said, “As ways to resist forcible retirement, it is important to say ‘I don’t resign’ and to demand a halt to undue interviews by pointing out that such an act is illegal. In addition, joining in a labor union is also useful to block forced layoffs.”

The Supreme Court in its ruling dated July 10, 1980 recognized that a company’s act of forcing a worker to quit one’s job many times for long periods of time constitutes forcible retirement which infringes on workers’ rights protected under labor laws.

Past related article:
> JMITU stands up against Sega Sammy’s job-cut plan using corona-crisis as excuse [December 11, 2020]

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