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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 17 - 23  > Court again recognizes JAL’s unfair labor practice
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2015 June 17 - 23 [LABOR]

Court again recognizes JAL’s unfair labor practice

June 19, 2015
The Tokyo High Court on June 18 issued a decision upholding last year’s lower court judgment which ruled that Japan Airlines (JAL) unfairly and illegally intervened in a strike vote which was conducted by unions opposing a mass dismissal.

In 2010, JAL made a plan to discharge a large number of employees due to corporate “financial difficulties”. In October that year, unions of JAL pilots and flight attendants held a vote on whether to go on strike, seeking cancellation of the planned dismissal. In that process, executives of the airline company and its rehabilitation administrator tried to influence the vote by saying, “If the unions exercise the right to strike, the company will be ineligible for government financial assistance amounting to 350 billion yen.”

In the court battles, the JAL management justified its intervention, claiming that it was needed to turn the company’s business around.

The high court ruling, however, clearly points out that the Japanese Constitution does not allow control over or interference in union activities under the pretext of a firm’s survival, citing Article 28 of the Constitution which guarantees the fundamental legal rights of labor. It goes on to state that if the management had wanted to avoid the strike, they should have held talks with those unions to try to work out an acceptable compromise.

On the last day of 2010, JAL forcibly fired a total of 165 pilots and cabin attendants. The lawsuits filed by the discharged employees came to an end in February 2015 with the high court decisions against the plaintiffs finalized.

Since the massive dismissal, the remaining workers have suffered from excessive workloads and have left the company one after another. More than 170 JAL pilots moved to other airlines, and nearly 600 flight attendants resign every year. To make up for its acute staff shortage, JAL hastily hired 2,300 new cabin attendants.

The dismissed JAL workers are still struggling for their reinstatement. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has repeatedly advised the Japanese government to push for labor-management negotiations over the dismissal issue.

The latest court judgment may give impetus to work to resolve the matter.

Past related articles:
> District court: JAL hampers union activity for cancellation of mass dismissal [August 28&29, 2015]
> JCP Tatsumi: Gov’t should make efforts for reinstatement of ex-JAL flight crew [March 20, 2015]
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