Foreign temporary workers hit hard by layoffs speak out

Among the ranks of temporary workers, foreigners, who face a language barrier, are particularly vulnerable to Japan’s worsening economy, and on Sunday some 200 of those workers took to the streets of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture in an unprecedented demonstration. The protesters called for greater job security and decried the sudden layoffs of temporary workers, which can come without warning or explanation.

One of those laborers, a 32-year-old Brazilian who works at a Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture auto parts plant, saw 40 co-workers laid off at the beginning of December. “I still have a job,” the auto worker says, “but who knows when I’ll get laid off? I’ve joined a labor union just in case.”

Some 100 of 150 members of Scrum Union Hiroshima are foreign laborers. Fifteen foreigners, most of them temporary workers at Mazda or related companies, came to talk to the Portuguese-speaking union counselors. Those who came to the session were of varying ages, from their 20s to their 50s. They all expressed the same fears: “If I lose my job, I don’t know how I will live.”