Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 22 - 28  > Workers beat back mass layoffs by major electronics firms
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2012 August 22 - 28 TOP3 [LABOR]

Workers beat back mass layoffs by major electronics firms

August 23 & 24, 2012
Major electrical appliance makers in Japan are implementing harsh restructuring schemes, including massive personnel cuts and worsening of working conditions. Akahata on August 23-24 reported that workers are joining together across companies to rebuff those streamlining programs.

Since last year, waves of downsizing the labor force in the industry have swollen to the size of about 120,000: 40,000 at Panasonic; 14,000 at Renesas; 10,000 at Ricoh; 10,000 at NEC; 10,000 at Sony; and 5,000 at Sharp among others.


NEC Corp. is obsessed in persuading targeted workers to accept early retirement in personal interviews. The company sometimes interviews workers more than 10 times in two months and says, “There won’t be any job for you,” although they show no intention of leaving the job.

The Electric Labor and Industry Correspondence (ELIC), composed of electric manufacturing workers and a union for individual workers in electronics and information industries (Denki-Joho Union), told Akahata that many workers are complaining of stress because of the relentless interviews. During ELIC consultations, some said they cannot sleep well; some said they feel like they are going crazy; their state of depression has intensified, and some even say they want to die.

The Supreme Court rules that recommending employees many times for a prolonged period to retire early impairs their free decision-making ability and thus constitutes infringement of rights.

An NEC and related-workers network has been holding a monthly protest action since February in front of the NEC head office in Tokyo and other NEC offices in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The network claims that NEC made a fraudulent claim by stating that a net loss of 110.3 billion yen in 2011 due to the costs associated with its streamlining scheme although the company made 73.7 billion yen in business profits. Revealing such deceptions, the network criticizes NEC’s restructuring program as irresponsible.

The network recently sent a questionnaire to NEC workers asking if they think the restructuring plan improves the company. The results show that 69% answered, “No,” or they think “it will have the opposite effect.”

Secretary of the Denki-Joho Union, Mori Eiichi said, “Only when workers work with pride in their workplace can the company raise its performance and value. Corporations are socially responsible for boosting domestic industries and defending employment.”


Ricoh Co., Ltd. is planning to cut 10,000 personnel worldwide. The company is also promoting a ban on overtime work as a means to trim labor costs.

The Denki-Joho Union conducted a survey of Ricoh workers and received such response as “Please, put a stop to forcible retirement,” “I was told overtime work should not be punched in,” and “I feel desperate because my overtime work was counted as zero although I worked 50 hours of overtime.”

The Union carried out a protest in front of several Ricoh offices and factories, calling for “eliminating overtime work without pay and creating an environment for everyone to be able to work without the anxiety of job loss.”

Ebine Hiromitsu, secretary of a local chapter of the Denki-Joho Union, said, “The workers are worried that they may be dismissed if they disobey the zero overtime policy. Ricoh should stop dismissing the workers’ overtime work while threatening them with the performance-based pay system.”


Hitachi, Ltd. claimed they were 787.3 billion yen in the red in March 2009. Despite coming back into the black after that, the company decided to pull out itself from the hard disk drive (HDD) business and completed a transfer of its HDD operations to Western Digital Corporation in March 2012.

Nakamura Yukiko of a community for Hitachi-related workers (Hitachikon) said, “To sell out the entire division to an outside entity is equal to throwing away its corporate social responsibility and thinking nothing of its workers’ lives. Only a company that cares about its workers can bring prosperity to its business and contribute to the Japanese economy.”

For 18 months after being transferred to Western Digital Corporation, working conditions of workers of the former HDD division will be maintained under the conditions of the present assignment. However, the ex-Hitachi workers are now concerned about changes in working conditions after the 18 months elapse.

Nakamura of the Hitachikon said, “We will keep fighting against the adverse revision of working conditions.”
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved