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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 21 - 27  > Non-regular hotel workers fighting for compensation for their unfair dismissals
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2021 April 21 - 27 [LABOR]

Non-regular hotel workers fighting for compensation for their unfair dismissals

April 22, 2021
In Ise City in Mie Prefecture, non-regular hotel workers have joined a local union and launched a fight for compensation for damages caused by their employer’s unfair labor practices, such as unilateral termination of contracts.

They were employed locally by a Tokyo-based temp agency, S.TEC Co. Ltd, which provides outsourced housekeeping and other hotel services, under a three-month renewable contract. In 2017, they were assigned to a dishwashing job in a Mie hotel.

Since April 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19, the number of hotel customers has decreased. In August of that year, S.TEC announced that it will dismiss 20 temps dispatched to the hotel by using the end of the service contract with the hotel as an excuse.

In reaction to the company’s announcement, 13 of the 20 temps joined the Mie Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions (Mie-roren), a local member of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), in order to request the company to maintain their jobs and compensate them for loss of earnings caused by the forced termination. With help from the Mie-roren and a Japanese Communist Party local assembly member, they succeeded in being enrolled in the employment insurance program and applied for unemployment benefits. In addition, they were able to receive state benefits for workers who were forced to take leave of absence due to the pandemic. However, unfortunately, the 13 workers’ employment contracts were terminated at the end of September 2020.

Currently, they are fighting to win compensation for damages caused by the company’s illegal acts. In their fight, they claimed that the company committed various labor law violations which include breach of the employer’s duty to enroll eligible workers in the public healthcare and pension programs for corporate employees and the imposition of excessively long working hours.

One of the 13 workers, a man in his 50s said, “Sometimes, I had to work shifts of more than 16 hours for four consecutive days.” Another worker said, “I often got home at one o’clock in the morning and left home for work after four hours of rest.”

The union on April 6 held negotiations with the company online. In the virtual bargaining session, the company said that it will carry out the procedure for enrolling the 13 workers in the relevant medical insurance and pension scheme. The company, however, argued that the 13 workers should pay their share of social insurance premiums. Refuting the company’s argument, the union pointed out that as the company failed to fulfill its responsibility to register the 13 workers for the social insurance system, it should not impose an additional financial burden on the 13 dismissed workers. The union also pointed out that the company should compensate them for damages caused by its labor law violations.

A Mie-roren officer said, “I’ve heard that in other prefectures, S.TEC used locally employed workers in violation of labor laws. We will press the company to be accountable for its lawless action.”
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