Tozen fights back against Gaba’s vicious penalties

On Monday 4th December 2023, members of Tozen’s Gaba local took to the streets to protest and fight for their wellbeing.

The video below includes speeches from organiser Louis Carlet, Gaba local President Musashi Sakazaki, and Gaba local General Secretary Mitch Brown.

 

Mainichi Shimbun cover Tozen’s fight for 10% pay rise

Article written by 東海林智, and originally featured here.

「10%以上の賃上げを」非正規労働者ら、春闘に向け団体設立

非正規労働者らを多く組織する個人加盟が中心の労働組合や地域労組が4日、2024年春闘へ向けた共闘組織「非正規春闘実行委員会」を設立した。物価高による生活苦が社会に広がる中、一律10%以上の賃上げを方針に掲げた。実行委は「一人でも賃上げを求め声を上げることはできる。一緒に賃金を上げよう」と呼びかけた。

非正規労働者の賃上げに特化した取り組みは今春に続き2度目。東京都内で活動する全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン、首都圏青年ユニオン、全国一般東京東部労組、総合サポートユニオンなどで実行委を結成。全国各地から計20労組が参加する。参加労組は23年春闘から三つ増えた。

この日は、春闘方針を発表した。①一律10%以上の賃上げ②正規と非正規の均等待遇③全国一律最低賃金1500円の即時実現――などを要求する。賃上げ要求は23年春闘の10%に「以上」を付けて増額を目指す。実行委の青木耕太郎さんは「物価上昇の中、生活できる賃金を考えれば10%でも足りない人もいる。生活実態から要求を考え『以上』をつけた」と説明した。

23年春闘では、飲食店やスーパーなど36社と団体交渉。ストライキをしたり、協力して会社の前で宣伝をしたりして、16社から有額の回答を得た。飲食店で時給200円(17%)▽スーパーで非正規労働者9000人に5・44%▽靴販売店で同5000人に6%の賃上げを実現した。24年春闘では要求の輪を広げたいとしている。実行委は「要求しなければ賃金は上がらない。低賃金に悩んでいる人は相談してほしい」とアピールしている。

Bread & Roses: Labor Commission Grants Rights to Uber Eats Union

SNA (Tokyo) — US President Joe Biden ensured that December 2, 2022, will go down as a dark day in the history of the US labor movement. He signed legislation that forces railway unions to accept a miserable contract, robbing them of their right to strike for better conditions. A week prior, the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission provided us a brighter day in labor history with the first ever ruling extending union rights to those engaged in work via an online platform.

The Tokyo Labor Relations Commission ruled that Uber Eats Japan’s “delivery partners” are workers and have all three trade union rights–the right to solidarity, the right to collective bargaining, and the right to strike. The commission ordered Uber Eats Japan as well as two Uber subcontractors that handle delivery driver registration, support, and education to negotiate with the Uber Eats Union in good faith.

The delivery giant registers its deliverers as individual service providers with zero protection under Japanese labor laws, including the key Labor Standards Act and Trade Union Act.

The definition of rodosha (worker or employee) differs depending on which labor law is applied, be it the Labor Standards Act, the Trade Union Act, the National Health Insurance Act, or one of many others. The definition under the Trade Union Act has the broadest scope, so many workers have union rights, but don’t enjoy wage and other rights as stipulated in the Labor Standards Act.

Article 1 of the Trade Union Act stipulates the purpose of the law–to ensure that workers can band together (“combine” in Adam Smith’s terminology) to increase their negotiating position, come to the table with employers as equals, and improve their working conditions.

The Tokyo Labor Relations Commission had to determine whether or not Uber Eats delivery partners (in Uber’s phony circumlocution) enjoy the status of rodosha and its attendant three union rights. The corporation claims that it provides the service of “matching” restaurants and those who want to order food, and thus its platform users don’t “provide labor” to the Uber Eats platform operator.

“Uber doesn’t only provide the platform to the delivery partners,” the judgement read.

The reality is that it is in many different ways involved in the completion of the delivery, and since the delivery partners must complete their deliveries under Uber oversight, it’s hard to conceive them as being nothing more than simple “customers” (platform users). We can strongly infer the possibility of assessing what they do as providing labor to Uber, which runs the business within the overall Uber Eats business.

The following labor ministry checklist, created based on previous jurisprudence, is used to determine rodosha status under the Trade Union Act:

1. The purported rodosha are integral to the business organization
2. Contracts are written unilaterally or uniformly
3. Remuneration is in exchange for labor/work
4. The purported rodosha are expected to accept orders (i.e. not really free to say no)
5. Work hours and locations are determined by the corporation, not by purported rodosha
6. The corporation takes the key risks, rewards, and decisions who does the work

In other words, courts and labor commissions have looked not only at the words written on the contract, but also at the reality of the relationship between the corporation and the purported rodosha.

The Tokyo Labor Commission ruled September 3, 2019, that language teachers working at Gaba had all three labor union rights based on the actual relationship between Gaba and teacher, despite Gaba contracts alleging that instructors are independent service providers. The commission took cognizance of the fact that both Uber Eats and Gaba set forth strict, detailed rules that their deliverers or teachers must follow, contradicting the notion that they are merely intermediaries matching up providers and users.

Gaba appealed its loss to the Central Labor Relations Commission in a case nearing its conclusion. Uber Eats is considering its options, including an appeal to the higher body.

Platform operators like Uber are growing in number, in part due to the impact of the pandemic. Whereas it does afford platform workers a degree of freedom in terms of working times and locations, the jobs inherently lack security, social insurance, and other social safety benefits. Some have called for the drafting of legislation to protect freelancers.

So far, however, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has not moved forward with policies to protect platform workers.

This ruling is a good first step, to be sure, but it should also be obvious. Corporations are increasingly turning to this model of treating working people and their labor as commodities to enrich themselves and their businesses, while taking zero responsibility for their rights, protections, or welfare.

Let us condemn this insidious corporate machination, even as we welcome this particular verdict.

This article was written by Hifumi Okunuki, and originally published by the Shingetsu News Agency (SNA).

Bread & Roses: Bosses Can’t Force Workers to Quit

SNA (Tokyo) — Kata-tataki, or taps on the shoulder, indicate a series of actions a boss takes to drive a worker to quit without outright firing them. It establishes that the subsequent contract termination is mutually agreed, as opposed to a unilateral and contestable firing. The legal jargon for such “shoulder tapping” is taishoku kansho. In this installment of Bread & Roses, I’d like to explain the practice and introduce a recent, surprising verdict in a court case over its validity.

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Tozen organiser interviewed by scientific journal, Nature

In the article ‘I feel disposable’: Thousands of scientists’ jobs at risk in Japan, about universities terminating workers on fixed-term contracts, Tozen organiser Louis Carlet was interviewed and gave an explanation on how universities have responded to the 5/10-year rule.

Read the full article here

Bread & Roses 「同一労働同一賃金」―裁判所はどう判断している? Japan’s same-work-same-pay law fails to live up to its promise

Many laud Article 8 of the brand new Part-time/Fixed-term Employment Act as Japan finally recognizing the principle of same-work-same-pay. But one word in that article gave me pause: unreasonable.

The Part-time/Fixed-term Employment Act (enacted in April 2020 for regular firms and small businesses a year later), prohibits unreasonable treatment of employees on regular and irregular/contingent contracts. Article 8 stipulates, “The employer must not create a disparity that could be deemed unreasonable between the base pay, bonus and other conditions of short-term/fixed-term employees and ordinary employees, with due consideration to what could be deemed appropriate in light of the nature and purpose of the compensation as well as the details of the operations the worker is involved, the degree of corresponding responsibility, the details of the work duties, the potential for job changes of the two groups of employees and other circumstances. (Emphasis mine.)”

Disparities between contingent and regular employees are forbidden if they are unreasonable. Does that mean that reasonable disparities are fine? Let’s see what the courts are up to on this front.

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東ゼン大学 – 契約形態でやられちゃった。Tozen Daigaku – Work contracts, and how companies screw you.

Tozen’s Louis Carlet delves into different types of Labour contracts, and discusses their pros and cons.

講師: ルイス・カーレットとオレン・フランクハム
Presented by Louis Carlet and Orren Frankham

Bread & Roses: Do sex workers really have a choice?

On March 30, 2022, NHK Web News ran a story on how women driven to financial hardship due to the corona pandemic are increasingly turning to sex work.  (https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20220330/k10013558231000.html)  

The report notes that sex workers’ “growing presence in busy urban neighborhoods has spurred police to take enforcement action but also to assign case officers to provide support and to accompany the arrested women to life consultant centers run by local governments.” The cops have begun to provide support for the women’s futures from a social welfare perspective, rather than just cracking down.

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東ゼン大学 – 産休とマタハラ Tozen Daigaku: Maternity Leave and Harassment

弁護士加藤佳子東ゼン労組執行委員長奥貫妃文は産後産前休暇とマタハラパタハラを講義する。

Attorney Kato Keiko and Tozen President Hifumi Okunuki teach us about the law and legal cases around maternity leave, and maternity and paternity harassment.

東ゼン大学 – 有給休暇 Tozen Daigaku – Paid Leave

Tozen Organisers Louis Carlet and Orren Frankham discuss the paid leave system in Japanese workplaces.