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2011 March 9 - 15 [LABOR]

Workers dismissed for unionizing

March 10, 2011
Last autumn in Chiba Prefecture, 17 workers were arbitrarily dismissed by a company operating a solar energy generation-related business just after they formed a labor union in order to demand compensation for unpaid overtime.

The 17 workers are members of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Union (JMIU) Solar Silicon Technology branch.

Secretary general of the union Kurihara Mutsuo said, “Even though we worked 200 hours of overtime a month, the company never compensated us for that work. We were lucky if we were able to take one day off a month.”

In May 2010, the 17 workers asked the Chiba Prefectural Confederation of Trade Unions (Chiba-roren), a member of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), for its help regarding their harsh labor conditions. Then they decided to establish their own union branch in order to seek payment for unpaid overtime and the retraction of unilateral wage cuts.

When union members notified the company of the inauguration of the union, company president Tezuka Hirofumi agreed to negotiate with the union by stating, “It is natural to accept the union.” However, on the following day, he changed his mind and began to attack the union. In October 2010, the company sent a letter of dismissal to all the union members and deleted them from the company’s security control system in order to prevent them from entering the company.

The union applied for a provisional disposition with the Chiba District Court Kisarazu Branch, calling for the suspension of the unfair dismissal order.

Solar Silicon Technology Co. was invited by Chiba Prefecture to Kazusa Academia Park (Kisarazu and Kimitsu cities), an industrial park developed by the prefectural government using 150 billion yen in tax money. The prefecture has exempted the company from paying land rent for five years since 2008.

Pointing out this fact, the union made representations to the prefectural government three times to request it to negotiate on their behalf with the company.

Union Chair Suwa Mitsuru said, “The company should revoke its unfair dismissal decision and restore us to our original workplaces. If this company’s union busting action is allowed, workers across Japan will be fired unreasonably. We can’t lose in this struggle.”
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