Shiseido must fulfill its corporate social responsibility
-Dismissed workers appeal to shareholders
Members of the Joint Struggle Council against Dismissals by Shiseido and Anfini on June 25 converged on the Imperial Hotel in central Tokyo, where Shiseido shareholders were holding their annual assembly. They staged a protest against dismissals of production line workers who had been hired as contingent workers at the Shiseido’s Kamakura plant, where Anfini is contracted for the production of lip sticks.
The National Confederation of Trade Union (Zenroren), Women Bureau, which makes it principle to support labor disputes involving women, took part in the action in support of the fired workers.
Seven women, who are among the contingent workers fired by Anfini, have filed a lawsuit in the Yokohama District Court demanding that Anfini and Shiseido retract their dismissals and secure their jobs. The first examination of witnesses is due to begin on July25.
Furthermore, in January this year, Shiseido announced that it would shut down its Kamakura plant. The plant closing is not for the purpose of scaling down production. The true aim is to cut the overall workforce by 1,000 in Japan in order to move production overseas (to Vietnam) as part of its cost-cutting strategy. The closing of the Kamakura plant will affect not only the area’s shopping district but the economy of Kanagawa Prefecture. This is why Shiseido’s unilateral plan to maximize profit by sacrificing the workers and the local economy is infuriating Kamakura residents.
Shiseido is Japan’s largest cosmetics manufacturer. It internationally commits to fulfilling its “corporate social responsibility”. The firm participated in the “UN Global Compact”(*) in 2004 and signed the UN “Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business ”. Shiseido also proudly announced at a news conference in March 2013 that it was chosen by the Ethisphere Institute (U.S.) as one of the world’s most ethical companies for the second straight year.
(*)“ The Global Compact asks companies to embrace universal principles and to partner with the United Nations. It has grown to become a critical platform for the UN to engage effectively with enlightened global business.” ? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Contrary to the commitment it made internationally and the social reputation it has earned, Shiseido continues to use temporary agency workers and independent contract workers as disposable workers at its production sites; it continues to refuse to meet union representatives. How dishonest the company is! Shiseido is not fulfilling its commitment to corporate social responsibility as long as it seeks to maximize its profit at the cost of the local economy as well as the lives of workers and their families.
Masako OBATA, Director of Zenroren Women Bureau, spoke out on behalf of her organization:
In 2009, women contingent workers at Shiseido’s Kamakura plant where Anfini undertakes the production for Shiseido were forced out of work. The reason Anfini gave for the dismissal was that “job cuts have become necessary because orders from Shiseido have declined.” It did not provide any information about its financial position.
The group’s consolidated financial statement in March 2009 showed Shiseido posted 19.4 billion yen in net profit and paid 20.1 billion yen in dividends to shareholders. Thus, Shiseido had made huge amounts of earnings but threw off workers as part of streamlining at the Shiseido Kamakura plant, even though they had worked there very hard.
For four years since the dismissals, Shiseido has never met the union or any other organizations supporting the dismissed workers. The company is so dishonest as to even refuse to receive letters from us. We feel very angry about the attitude of the company that is supposed to sell dreams of cosmetics to women.
In January this year, Shiseido announced it would shut down its Kamakura plant. The plant closure would shatter those workers’ hope for their reinstatement. There are about 700 workers at the Kamakura plant at present. If the plant is closed, only a handful of regular full-time workers would be able to secure jobs by transfer. An overwhelming majority of the workers would be forced to give up their jobs. Contract workers would not be paid severance pay with a premium or get help in finding a new job.
Today, Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s administration is pushing ahead with the implementation of a “growth strategy” by invoking “Abenomics” to try to revitalize the economy. Its plans include the introduction of a category of employment called “limited regular employment” for a particular region or work schedule under the pretext of offering workers diverse options. The “limited regular full-time employment” system would be instrumental in forcing workers to endure bad working conditions and lower wages as a matter of course. “Limited regular full-time” workers will have no chance of transfer even when the office or factory is shut down. So, it is a system giving the employers freedom to dismiss.
Clearly, Shiseido’s Kamakura plant closing will herald the introduction of the limited regular full-time employment system. Securing jobs and stable lives are essential for the revitalization of the economy. How can a company that throws away workers so easily have a future?
We demand that Shiseido keep its promise to comply with corporate social responsibility, secure the employees’ jobs, and settle the labor dispute without delay.
We ask all the shareholders of Shiseido to know about the dispute and the issue of the plan to close the Kamakura plant. Please join us in raising our voices calling for Shiseido to fulfill its corporate social responsibility.