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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 December 10 - 16  > Isuzu non-regular workers unionize against major dismissal
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2008 December 10 - 16 [LABOR]

Isuzu non-regular workers unionize against major dismissal

December 14, 2008
Akahata Sunday Edition

On December 3, the day fixed-term contract workers established their union at Isuzu Motors, they suddenly became a focus of media attention. About 20 domestic and foreign news organizations came to interview them. The workers began to publicly demand that the automaker retract its massive dismissal plan.

“We realized that we are not alone in this,” said Matsumoto Hirotoshi, chair of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Union (JMIU) Isuzu branch.

The next day was a very busy day for the new unionized workers. Early in the morning, Matsumoto for the first time distributed flyers with other union members in front of a factory gate to their colleagues who were going in or coming out of the factory in cars. He saw more favorable reactions than he expected from workers. Many workers stopped their cars to receive the flyer.

Then the union members notified the company of the establishment of the union and exchanged a memorandum with it that called for problems related to their rights, including employment and working conditions, to be settled through collective bargaining.

After filing a request with the Utsunomiya District Court Tochigi Branch calling for a temporary suspension of their dismissals, they took part in a rally held at Hibiya Amphitheater in central Tokyo to demand a drastic revision to the Worker Dispatch Law.

Matsumoto appeared on the stage with other temporary and fixed-term workers from around the country and spoke about how he and his colleagues had come to organize the union. Raising his fist, he said with a cheerful face, “We will fight as one!”

Matsumoto and four other fixed-term contract workers at Isuzu Motors had gone to the Utsunomiya District Court Tochigi Branch and the Yokohama District Court for two main reasons.

One is that the arbitrary dismissals were in violation of paragraph 1, Article 17 of the Labor Contract Law.

The law states that employers cannot dismiss fixed-term contract workers during the contract term unless they face a crisis of bankruptcy or other unavoidable conditions.

The second reason is that Isuzu Motor is not currently suffering from financial difficulties.

The company expects that its ordinary income in March next year will be 60 billion yen and plans to increase the dividend for shareholders by 1.7 billion yen. On the other hand, the total wage from January to April 7 for 580 fixed-term contract workers whom the company plans to dismiss is only 470 million yen. Isuzu can easily cover such an amount of cost for their continued employment.

JMIU Secretary Miki Ryoichi said that it is significant that contingent workers have unionized and asked the court to stop the massive dismissals on the pretext of economic recession and won the right of collect bargaining. He added that the JMIU does its utmost to support their struggle to have the company retract their dismissal and offer them regular positions.
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