From WEEKLY MDS No.1040, June 27, 2008 issue
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July 7 One Day Action to Call for Human Workplace

A Series of Malfeasance Accusations

On June 3, officials of Goodwill Inc., a major temporary staff dispatch agency, and Towa Lease were arrested on the charge of violation of the Employment Security Law (Article 44: Prohibition of Labour Supply Projects) because they had conducted double dispatching of workers to cargo-handling and construction work establishments banned under the Worker Dispatch Law. On June 5, papers on four affiliated companies were also sent to the prosecutors. Even after receiving an improvement order upon the finding of their disguised contracts from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Goodwill has been daring to repeat the act of double dispatching.

The judiciary has also started ruling against illegal activities committed by business corporations. On April 25, the Osaka High Court issued a ruling to order wage payment to and cancellation of the discharge of YOSHIOKA Tsutomu, who had accused Matsushita Plasma Display Co., Ltd. of disguised contracting, and then been fired. The court judgment calls for employment stability for the workers concerned by ruling that the insecure employment arrangement known as disguised contracting that is promoted by global companies is illegal, recognizing that human rights infringements actually took place and virtually criticizes the government's labor-related administration.

Similarly, the status of "a manager only in name" at McDonald's Japan has also been ruled as illegal (in a January ruling), and a case of a work-related death was established for a karoshi suicide (suicide as a result of overwork and excessive stress in the workplace) of an employee of Canon Inc. the chairman of which is MITARAI Fujio who chairs the Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation).

Global companies are condemned one after another as they simply handle workers as means, not humans, and even ignore law for profits.

No Way for Government to Ignore and Get Away

On June 13, Health, Labour and Welfare Minister MASUZOE Yoichi remarked on the issue of double contracting by Goodwill, "Practices of daily worker dispatching should be reviewed on a very strict basis, excluding dispatches of professionals such as interpreters. I am considering rearrangement of the related legal condition by autumn based on hearings from both management and labor." In this representation, the Minister expressed his intention to submit to the autumn extraordinary Diet session a draft revision to the Worker Dispatch Law that would essentially prohibit daily worker dispatching.

Temporary worker dispatch was liberalized in principle in 1999 to open up a broader range of services to this practice. In 2004 under the KOIZUMI administration, the ban on temp staff dispatching in the manufacturing segment was also lifted. In response to demand from global capitalists, the Japanese government has always been the key promoter of deregulation in the labor world to allow them to attack labor freely. As a result, the reality of poverty has become obvious revealing that workers cannot maintain the minimum standard of living even if they work under health-destroying work conditions. Now that illegal corporate activities are accused, the government is pressed to address the issue.

As a matter of timing, the voting and ballot counting of the election for the Okinawa prefectural assembly took place on June 8, and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito lost miserably, leading to a reverse of the power relationship between the ruling and opposition parties in the assembly. The Cabinet approval rate among the public continued to drop to 19.1% according to the June 6-9 poll by Jiji Press. Co. To this result, Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo could not but admit that protest against the later elderly health care plan among the elderly had affected the voting result. Anger at the neo-liberal policies under the Fukuda administration is now spreading deep in the society.

Stage Social Fight

Representing about 800 worker dispatching companies, the Japan Staffing Service Association dares to say even now, "The labor also has the needs to work on a daily basis. We oppose to total ban of daily worker dispatching." Who on earth would wish insecure employment without conditions to allow worker to survive? Band-aid "regulation" can never solve poverty. As a system that never secures the minimum standard of living, the temporary employment is the source of the problem. To solve the problem, regular employment must be extended, and "work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families" must be established as the ILO Decent Work report advocates as an international standard.

With the direct victims of neo-liberal policies including non-standard workers and the elderly on the front, let us corner private companies and the government. Let us spread the One Million Signature Campaign to Appeal to the Supreme Court for supporting Yoshioka in his struggle for finalization of the winning ruling and get together in July 7 One Day Action. (June 14)

Weekly MDS