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2020 January 15 - 21 [LABOR]

Several Mitsubishi workers committed suicide after power harassment

January 16, 2020
At the end of last year, it came to light that yet another Mitsubishi Electric Corporation employee had committed suicide. The worker joined the company in April 2019 and just four months later killed himself at a park near a Mitsubishi dormitory.

In addition to this worker, in the Mitsubishi group which includes subsidiaries, four employees committed suicide between 2012 and 2019 due to excessively long working hours or power harassment. Three other employees suffered strokes or mental collapses and received official recognition of their conditions as work-related. Most worked under the "discretionary" labor system.

The system assumes in advance the number of hours one has worked. It, however, obscures the actual working hours. Because of this, it has been under criticism for enabling the imposition of long working hours. Mistubishi Electric Corp. introduced this tactic in 2004 but abolished it in 2018 in face of a spate of work-related accidents requiring compensation.

A Mitsubishi worker who received public workman's compensation for his work-related mental disorder said that he had worked long hours, worked even on holidays, and regularly had to take his work home, and that his overtime had amounted to 160 hours a month. He also said that his boss, however, had ordered him to report his overtime to be less than 40 hours a month. Thus, he was forced to work up to 120 hours of overtime in one month without pay.

A Japanese Communist Party workgroup in charge of Mistubishi labor issues produced leaflets demanding that the company increase the number of workers, reduce overtime hours, and record the exact number of hours all workers actually worked.

Maita Tokuji, chairman of the Denki-Joho Union, said, "In the electronics and information industries, many technicians and engineers are paid based on their achievements or performance and on the principle of self-responsibility. They cannot speak out freely. Such an environment imposes heavier workloads on workers, leading to work-related illnesses and, in the worst case, driving workers to suicide." Maita added, "Japan should change the present rules on work hours which allow employers to use workers beyond the danger-line of death from overwork and should instead set regulations to have employers comply with international labor standards such as the ILO's new convention prohibiting workplace violence and harassment."

Past related article:
> Mitsubishi Electric abolishes discretionary work system [September 28, 2018]
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