Court forcibly removes sacked workers who continued to operate hotel

Tokyo District Court enforcement officers on Sunday forcibly removed sacked workers who had continued to operate a hotel in Tokyo even after it was closed down in October last year due to financial difficulties.

The situation arose after the original operator of the Keihin Hotel decided to close it down and fire its approximately 130 employees to pay back debts totaling around 6 billion yen to a Japanese affiliate of bankrupt U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Following the enforcement action, the dispute will move to the court where some of the former employees have filed a lawsuit seeking the nullification of the company’s decision to fire them.

[From Saturday evening through to] shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday, the former employees and labor union members [including members of NUGW Tokyo Nambu] supporting them protested in front of the hotel, located near Shinagawa station, to prevent the district court officers entering the building.

Scuffles with riot police accompanying the court officers broke out, but the officers entered the hotel at about 9:25 a.m. and finished the enforcement action around 15 minutes later.

Around 200 workers and supporters had gathered outside the hotel but no one was arrested. A former employee, who fell over and hit his head, was taken to hospital.

The former employees started operating the hotel and the restaurants in the hotel on their own a day after they were fired.

On Jan. 15, the Tokyo District Court decided to order the removal of the workers so that the building could be vacated in line with a demand from the hotel operator.