From Zenroren October 05

Fight to win (1)

M&A succeeded in the direction of workerfs@desire
By EBIHARA Takuo, Nikkatsu Workersf Union president

Workers at Nikkatsu Corporation, a major Japanese entertainment company known for its film and television productions, has successfully forced cable telecom service provider USEN to give up a takeover and acquisition of Nikkatsu.

The Nikkatsu Workers' Union, a member organization of the Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers' Union of Japan (Ei-en Roren), confronted Namco, which is Nikkatsu Corporation's parent company, when it announced that it would sell Nikkatsu to USEN in a multibillion-yen deal.

In August, Namco retracted the plan to sell Nikkatsu to USEN. In September, Index offered a buyout of Nikkatsu. On September 30, the union, which had complained about an M&A that disregarded the employees' interests, reached settlement with Nikkatsu Corporation. We thank Zenroren for giving us day-to-day support.

Nikkatsu Corporation in 1993 filed for a bankruptcy protection under the Corporation Reorganization Act. Later, it made a new beginning with Namco as its parent company. But its financial situation worsened soon after its bankruptcy protection ended. In 2003, the company encouraged workers to quit voluntarily. In addition, NAKAMURA Masaya, Nikkatsu CEO, announced a plan to relocate the company's film studio in Chofu City, Tokyo, to Yokohama. The union began to struggle against the relocation plan. In November 2003, the company gave up the relocation, but labor-management relations did not improve. It was at that time that the plan of sellout to USEN surfaced.

The union learned of the sellout plan in early 2004. It also learned that USEN had many problems, including illegal transactions and a large amount of interest-bearing debt.

The union decided to seek to rebuild Nikkatsu under another corporation and went on its first strike in 17 years. Union members staged protests front of Namco's head office and took to the streets to distribute flyers. They also distributed flyers at Namco's shareholders meeting.

We forced the company to disclose as much information as possible regarding the present problem facing the company, so that union members can share the common understanding of the problem. This effort led to a petition signed by 200 employees (80 percent) in opposition to the company's sellout to USEN.

The new parent company, Index, with mobile phone solution as its main business, is expanding business through M&A. Its shareholders include among others a major commercial broadcasting key station and a film company. It has a stake in a major toy maker Takaratomy and its subsidiaries include an animation film production company and a film investment firm. The union concluded that Index can help improve Nikkatsu's business. However, although the union's opinion was taken into account, the company's financial situation will not improve quickly.

We may face even larger difficulties on the way of rebuilding the company. We are ready to surmount them through discussions within the organization.

Fight to win (2)

Insurance workers win victory after 27 years of struggle

A 27-year struggle against union bashing and suppression of workers' rights at Asahi Fire and Marine Insurance won a total victory on September 15.

The struggle began soon after the parent company, Nomura Securities Co., Ltd. launched a major attack on the militant employees union by sending in a CEO to Asahi Fire and Marine Insurance.

Refusing to bend to the government's pro-business financial administration and to pressure from Nomura, the union held fast to its position of "not tolerating the illegal domination of the union and fighting to restore freedom to the workplace."

The workers' group that filed a lawsuit against the company firmly represented the workers' anger at the company's mistreatment as described by a worker as follows: "In 1983, I was transferred to Kushiro in Japanfs northernmost island Hokkaido and to Takasaki, 100km northwest from Tokyo. Forced to give up a high school he had been admitted, my son could not suppress his anger and anguish. After that I was ordered to move again to Asahikawa, Hokkaido. What a harsh treatment it is!"

The All Japan Non-Life Insurance Wokersf Union (Zensonpo) recognized this struggle as an important struggle to restore humane workplace and living conditions and called on every union member to take part in it.

We also had cooperation from union workers from other securities companies. At least 650 thousand workers participated in various activities. We have distributed more than 17 million flyers. In the course of this struggle we had courts and the regional labor relations commission condemn the employer 11 times and in 2004, we won a Supreme Court ruling supporting us.

However, the employer continued to refuse to stop unfair labor practices in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling. As workers' anger raged, Zenroren and other unions formed the "Association for Holding Nomura Securities Accountable and Achieving Victory in the Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance Dispute" with 68 unions and other organizations participating.

This unity of workers effectively increased the ranks of the struggle and finally achieved a victorious out-of-court settlement.

Accepting the Supreme Court ruling, the agreement makes it clear that management's outrageous rule must be thwarted.

A worker said: "I wish we could have celebrated this victory with all workers who have participated in this struggle, including those who died or quit the workplace. I'm sure that everyone feels happy about this victory. This struggle began when I was 27 and we achieved the settlement in the year I am 54." I realize that these are words of thanks as well as expression of a bitter struggle.

We will make this victory a first step toward a tomorrow in which all non-life insurance workers can work in humane conditions and in which the rights of all Japanese workers are duly respected. Thank you all for your support. (YOSHIDA Arihide, Zensonpo president)