Hi Blog. Coming on the heels of news two months ago, of GOJ reports of record numbers of labor violations and NJ Trainee deaths from overwork, here we have Nj fighting back regarding overtime. Unpaid or underpaid, that is. Which has been happening for decades now, since the “Trainee” and “Researcher” came online almost twenty years ago. It’s just going to keep happening until the GOJ finally enforces its already weak labor laws, and these workers fight back through unions and courts to claim what’s rightfully theirs — minimum standards for work and pay. Bonne chance. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime
(Mainichi Japan) October 27, 2009, Courtesy of JK
SHIMABARA, Nagasaki — Five Chinese trainees at an underwear manufacturer here have filed a complaint with the local labor bureau claiming they were forced to work overtime for just 350-400 yen per hour.
“We came to Japan with hope, but we are not treated like human beings,” the five women stated. “One other trainee complained that our wages were low and was sent back to China. We want to work in Japan for three years under reasonable conditions.”
The complaint, filed on Oct. 21, also claims that the women had their break times deducted for washroom visits, and the Shimabara Labor Standards Inspection Office has launched an investigation into the company for possible violations of the Labor Standards Act.
“The labor bureau is conducting an inquiry, so I cannot comment,” said the 62-year-old company president.
The five women, aged 21 to 27, arrived in Japan between December 2006 and December 2007 under the Industrial Training and Technical Internship Program, administered by the governmental Japan International Training Cooperation Organization.
According to the complaint and other sources, the women each worked as many as 209 overtime hours per month, and about 2,000 hours per year. The 350-400 yen per hour the women claim they were paid for that overtime falls short of Nagasaki Prefecture’s minimum wage of 629 yen per hour, and well below the standard set by the Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay 1.25-1.6 times the regular wage for overtime.
The women claim that during busy periods they each worked from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and sometimes did not have a single day off per month. They apparently signed a contract paying them a monthly salary based on the minimum wage, but that excluded provisions for overtime. Working an average of 173 hours per month at the minimum wage would equal a monthly paycheck of about 110,000 yen.
However, the women claim that the company told them their pay was being directly deposited in their bank accounts and did not show them the payment details. Furthermore, the company held both the women’s bankbooks and passports. The company president also apparently checked the clock whenever one of the women went to the washroom and deducted that time from their breaks.
A person who knew of the women’s working conditions reported the company to the Kumamoto Prefecture branch of the Zenroren union, which passed on the report to the Nagasaki branch. The five women enrolled in the Nagasaki branch, and began collective bargaining with the company. That resulted in the return of their bankbooks, but apparently no progress was made on the wage issue.
In response to growing criticism from experts on the rising number of foreign worker exploitation cases, the central government amended the Immigration Control and Refugee Act in July. The changes will go into effect in July 2010, and the government continues to review the system.