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  • Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 17th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Here’s some more good news.  After a nasty dispute some moons ago involving Chinese “Trainees” that ended up with a court ruling in their favor (the inspiration for the movie SOUR STRAWBERRIES), here we have another one that holds not their client, but also their pimp accountable.  Good.  Pity it the system as designed means it has to come to this, but I’m glad to see it happening.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010
    Foreigners win ¥17 million for trainee abuses

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100130b2.html

    KUMAMOTO (Kyodo) The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.

    The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.

    It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.

    The four female Chinese trainees, aged 22 to 25, engaged in sewing from early morning to late evening with only two or three days off a month after arriving in Japan in 2006, according to the court.

    ENDS

    //////////////////////////////////////

    中国人実習生「過酷労働」 業者らに賃金など支払い命令

    朝日新聞 2010年1月29日
    http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0129/SEB201001290003.html

    外国人研修・技能実習制度で来日した中国人女性4人が、熊本県天草市の縫製工場で不当に過酷な労働を強いられたとして、業者や受け入れを仲介した1次機関などに未払い賃金や慰謝料など計約3600万円を求めた訴訟の判決が29日、熊本地裁であった。高橋亮介裁判長は業者と受け入れ機関の計3者に計1725万円の支払いを命じた。原告弁護団によると、制度をめぐる労働裁判で、外国人を直接雇用しない1次受け入れ機関にも不法行為責任を認めたのは初めて。

    賠償命令を受けたのは、熊本県天草市の縫製会社スキールと個人事業所のレクサスライク(いずれも廃業)の2業者と、両者に実習生をあっせんした同県小国町の1次受け入れ機関プラスパアパレル協同組合の3者。制度を支援する財団法人国際研修協力機構(JITCO)に対する訴えは退けられた。

    原告は中国・山東省出身の22〜25歳の女性4人。2006年4月に来日して研修を始めたが、休日は月1回程度で、午前2時まで働かされたこともあったという。給料は最低賃金より少なく、労働基準法で禁じられた「強制貯金」もさせられたと訴えた。

    ENDS

    6 Responses to “Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker””

    1. Allen Says:

      Chalk another victory for the cause. Thank you for posting this.

    2. scott Says:

      Excellent news. A similar case in Shimabara (Nagasaki Prefecture). A court hearing took place on October 25, 2009. Not heard anything since. Anyway, here is the story. Read below.
      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.
      長崎県・島原半島内の女性下着縫製会社で働く中国人女性5人が、時給350~400円で残業させられているなどとして、島原労働基準監督署に労働基準法違反の申告をした。「トイレに行くと休憩時間から引かれた」などとも訴えている。申告を受け、同労基署は労働実態調査に乗り出した。同社の社長(62)は「労基署が調べているのでコメントできない」としている。
      外国人研修・技能実習制度により、06年12月~07年12月に入国した21~27歳の中国人女性。今月21日に申告した。
      申告などによると、同社は時給350~400円で多い月は1カ月に209時間、年間約2000時間の残業をさせたとしている。労基法は時間外勤務について賃金の1.25~1.6倍の割り増しを定めているが、同県の最低賃金(現在629円)も大幅に下回っていると主張している。
      女性らによると、繁忙期は午前8時~午前0時ごろまで働き、休日が1カ月に1日もなかった月もあったとしている。残業代を除く1カ月の給料は、県の最低賃金で計算する契約。1カ月平均173時間で約11万円になるが、同社は「通帳に振り込んでいる」などとして明細を出さず、通帳やパスポートも預かられていたという。また、女性らが勤務時間中にトイレに行く際は、社長が時計で時間を計り、その分を休憩時間から差し引かれたという。
      女性らの労働状況を知った関係者が9月上旬、熊本県労連を通じて長崎県労連に連絡。女性らは団体交渉での解決を目指し、県労連の労働組合に加入し、会社側との団交を続けている。この結果、通帳などは返されたが、賃金についての進展はみられないという。
      女性らは「希望を持って日本に来たが、私たちは人間として扱われていない。実習生のうち1人は『給料が少ない』と言ったら中国に帰国させられた。私たちは適正な環境で3年間、日本で働きたい」と訴えた。
      同制度を巡っては、専門家らから「労働搾取」が相次いでいると批判の声が出ており、政府は今年7月に入管法を改正したほか、来年7月の改正法施行に合わせ、更なる制度見直しを進めている。【阿部弘賢】
      集会で過酷な労働実態を訴えた中国人女性=長崎市で2009年10月25日

    3. Jake Says:

      Excellent news.

      “Trainees”, indeed. I can’t help but scoff every time I see that word used in such a context.

    4. jim Says:

      great the japanese court system finally did something right for a change. maybe just maybe 2010 will be a better year now wont it?

    5. Hoofin Says:

      I wonder if the documentary “Sour Strawberries” played any role in the court’s thinking? I remember there was the scene with the Chinese trainees who were greatly taken advantage of, and then were subject to an attempt at being forcibly removed from Japan when the head of the “program” they were training in didn’t want them around.

      It could also be the new opening up to the other countries of Asia by Minshuto, or a concern about what happens with Chinese relations when America leaves.

      – Or it could just be they got lucky with a nonbigoted judge. Either way, good news.

    6. MMT Says:

      In another bit of news, a Japanese man was acquitted in court, based upon the DVD of his interrogation being used by his defence laywer to show that his confession was signed under duress.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/man-acquitted-of-arson-murder-after-dvd-of-interrogation-used-in-his-defense

      ==============================

      Man acquitted of arson-murder after DVD of interrogation used in his defense

      OSAKA — A man tried for a fatal arson attack on an apartment building in Osaka was acquitted by a Japanese court Tuesday following a trial in which a DVD recording of his interrogation was the main piece of evidence used in his defense.

      The Osaka District Court returned a not guilty verdict on Osamu Oike, 61, who had been indicted over a May 2007 fire that killed three people in the city in western Japan, stating that the confession he made during the police investigation is not credible.

      Judge Hiroyuki Nakagawa said of the DVD that it showed Oike trying to deny the accusation, only for his attempts to dry up as the questioning wore on. Oike eventually admitted in the recording that he was responsible for the fire and later signed a confession.

      However, Oike testified in his trial that he did not remember whether he caused the fire.

      Nakagawa said in the ruling that it is possible that Oike was eventually forced into making a confession, as had been the interrogator’s goal all along, and also cited a psychological evaluation that showed Oike has a strong tendency to accommodate the opinions of others in an effort to build up good personal relationships.

      The judge added that circumstantial evidence suggests that anyone could have entered the apartment building at the time of the fire, meaning that Oike was not necessarily the only suspect in the case.

      The DVD was adopted as evidence at the defense’s request.

      The prosecution had sought 18 years in prison for Oike, who was a resident of the apartment building at the time of the blaze that occurred on May 5, 2007. He was arrested and indicted in August that year.

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