Labour commission victory against Okamoto Giken

Aug 5, 2011

 They have not allowed union members to work overtime, denied them work, and the manager has criticized union members during the morning meetings. After our labor dispute with Okamato Giken was underway we also learned that one of our members had been assigned to a bogus, non-existent company called “Mihara Seiko.” In April 2009, the GU filed a case against both Okamoto Giken and outsourcer Shimano, asking the Osaka Labor Commission for help in addressing their unfair labor practices, union busting and refusal to engage in collective bargaining. (The members formally employed by Mihara Seiko also declared that Okamoto Giken is their actual employer.) At around the time that we submitted these demands to the Labor Commission, Okamoto Giken changed their shift scheduling. Up until then all workers had been on a two-shift work schedule that allowed overtime. However, they introduced a three-shift schedule with reduced working hours and no overtime possibilities then placed union workers and some other non-union members into this shift system. However, most non-union members stayed in the overtime-allowed two-shift system. The company claimed that union members only lost overtime possibilities because of the change in the system and thus attempted to cover up their unfair labor practices of targeting union workers. Other unfair labor practices have also come to the fore. For example, they refused to let union members who were injured commuting to work, come back to work. Also, claiming a decrease in orders from Shimano, they targeted union members, not allowing them to work for half a month. Due to these contemptible practices the Osaka Labor Commission case was very complicated and drawn out, but on 9 May 2011, the Labour Commission handed down a ruling, stating that (1) overtime discrimination against union members, (2) refusal to let union members work. and (3) criticism of union members by the manager were all violations of Article seven, paragraphs one and three of the Trade Union Law. They also declared that, according to the Trade Union Law, Okamoto Giken is the actual employer of the workers nominally employed by Mihara Seiko. Thanks to the support of our friends in the community, starting with Zenrokyo and, most importantly, the union members who pushed on in the struggle to the end, we were able to win this fight at the Osaka Labour Commission. However, it was not a complete victory, as Shimano was not recognized as an employer and Okamoto Giken’s refusal to allow union members injured commuting to work were not recognized as an unfair labor practice. The union has appealed these parts of the decision, taking the case to the Central Labour Commission. Okamoto Giken also filed an appeal, asking for a retraction of the rulings against them. Okamoto Giken has not changed their hostile attitude toward the union and is still completely refusing negotiations. However, as the Osaka Labor Commission ruling shows, the company’s unfair labor practices are obvious. We at the General Union have strengthened our resolve against union busting and will keep fighting for a democratic workplace at Okamoto Giken!