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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 30 - June 5  > Popular stage performers form labor union to fight wage cuts
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2007 May 30 - June 5 [LABOR]

Popular stage performers form labor union to fight wage cuts

May 29, 2007
Performers of a popular stage production, “Muscle Musical,” formed a labor union affiliated to the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) in order to fight against their company’s arbitrary wage cuts, union members announced at a press conference on May 28.

On the same day, they submitted to the Tokyo Labor Bureau a request to take action to stop the employer’s unfair labor practices such as prohibiting union members from working. They also filed a suit at the Tokyo District Court seeking a provisional order on the company to pay them full wages.

The “Muscle Musical,” an acrobatic stage show performed by about 70 gymnasts, has attracted audiences of about 800,000 since 2001.

The union said Digital 9, a company that runs the musical, cut about 40 members’ wages by 20 to 50 percent after they refused to go to Las Vegas for a year-long performance starting at the end of May due to their family situations and other reasons.

Performers are not insured against accidents. Some of them were downgraded to part-timers after they were injured. Those who agreed to go to Las Vegas have to pay expenses during their stay themselves.

Since the company refused to negotiate on the working conditions, these performers formed the labor union in late April.

However, five union members, who had begun to work spring last year, were prohibited from performing on the stage and even entering the workplace since May 9.

The company finally had a collective bargaining session on May 17, but it has failed to agree to set a date for the next negotiation.

Union Chair Isomae Masaaki, a 31-year-old acrobatic performer, said that he has received monthly wages of only about 130,000 yen after the 50 percent cut. “We have no choice other than making public our problems, hoping that it will be good for the Muscle Musical. Enlisting our fans’ support, we will make efforts in our negotiations not only for union members but also for members currently performing on the stage,” he said.        - Akahata, May 29, 2007
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