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2012 February 15 - 21 [LABOR]

Sukiya unfairly rejected collective bargaining talks with union: court ruling

February 17 & 18, 2012
The Tokyo District Court ruled on February 16 that it was unfair for the major fast-food restaurant Sukiya to reject a request for collective bargaining from unionized part-time workers.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Union requested Zensho, the operator of Sukiya chains and a leading company of the restaurant industry, to hold collective bargaining talks over unpaid overtime and unfair cuts in union members’ working hours.

The company refused to sit at a negotiating table with its part-timers, insisting that the union is not qualified as a labor union under the Constitution or the Labor Union Law.

In February 2007, the union filed a complaint against Zensho at the Tokyo Labor Office, which in October 2009 recognized the rejection of collective bargaining as an unfair labor practice.

In July 2010, the Central Labor Relations Commission ordered Zensho to hold collective bargaining sessions with the union. The company, however, ended up filing a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court.

The court supported the Central Labor Relations Commission’s decision and recognized the Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Union as a labor union under existing labor laws.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Union has filed a lawsuit against Zensho, seeking the company’s compensation for its wage discrimination against union workers. In August 2010, three part-time workers of Sukiya in Sendai City had the company agree to pay them for their overtime work.

* * *

The court also recognized union workers’ campaigns in front of their workplaces as legitimate.

Zensho cited the Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Union’s actions in front of Sukiya restaurants as one of the reasons for them to reject the union’s request for collective bargaining.

In 2007, the youth union held campaigns in front of several Sukiya restaurants in Tokyo. They held a 3-meter-long banner that read, “Sukiya must pay overtime work based on laws,” and distributed Sukiya workers flyers titled, “Workers’ rights you cannot miss”.

Zensho insisted that the union action obstructed its businesses and deviates from allowable union activities.

However, the Central Labor Relations Commission in July 2010 acknowledged that the actions are legitimate. This was supported by the latest district court’s decision.
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