Temporary workers fought and won their status as full-time employees
In the western Japanese prefecture of Tokushima, young workers who had been forced to work as temporary workers disguised as workers on a contract with the manufacturer of automotive seals have succeeded in having themselves employed directly by the company where they actually work. The two years of their struggle drew media attention and influenced the labor ministry that oversees employersf labor practice. In this case, the staffing agency and the contractor company were denounced by the labor authorities for its illegal labor practice.
On October 2, workers who had been working as temporary workers for Koyo Sealing Techno became contract workers directly employed by the company they actually work for.
YABE Hiroshi, 41, who for 6 years had worked at the Koyo plant as an employee of another firm that has contracts in disguise with Koyo, said, gWe have won a sea change, but I do not feel as such. Maybe the only thing that has changed is uniform.h
The unjustifiable dismissal of a co-worker prompted Yabe and other temporary workers at Koyo Sealing Techno to seek advice from the local branch of the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers' Union (JMIU). They visited the JMIU branch because they were appalled to know that a manager of Koyo notified him of the co-workerfs dismissal although the worker had been a temp sent by a staffing company. At this point, they realized that they had been made to work for a company with a contract in disguise with Koyo, and they began to fight to expose the illegal labor practice.
The JMIU local branch first demanded that Koyo Sealing Techno and the staffing firm end the illegal use of temporary workers disguised as contract workers and that Koyo offer positions directly to these workers.
In August this year, Koyo Sealing Techno opened jobs directly to 59 temporary workers. They are now contract workers, who are to be promoted to full-time workers.
On September 4, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry issued a directive to the prefectural labor bureaus for the elimination of the use of workforce disguised as temporary workers. The Osaka Labor Bureau ordered the major staffing company gCollaborateh to suspend business until it completes improvement of business management. This was the first order to be issued under the law on the use of temporary workers. Thus, the two years of young workers struggle at Koyo Sealing Techno turned out to be effective in influencing the state and agency administration.
Mr. Yabe says, gWhile we were working as temps in disguise of contract workers, we were not able to change anything. Initially, Koyo said nothing can be done by separate individuals. But we thought itfs worth fighting. Mass media and the government administration acted. We would not have been able to win this struggle without support from the outside. It would have been much better if the Labor Bureau had acted earlier against Koyo and the staffing company.h
There remain further tasks. MORIGUCHI Hideaki, the Chair of the JMIU Tokushima regional center, says, gWe need to solve the problem of wages. We will also fight to have all union members and all temporary workers employed as full-time workers.h
NAKAMURA Hayato, the deputy secretary of the union branch says, gThe goal of this struggle is elimination of the illegal use of temporary workers disguised as contract workers.h
(Zenroren, October 15, 2006)