New Movement In Tohoku University’s “Dismiss People Before The Labor Contract Act Revision Takes Effect” Plans

Nov 15, 2016


For those who aren’t familiar with the subject, the revisions to the Labor Contract Act will require that an employer offer any employee who has been working at a company on a contractual basis for more than five years the opportunity to enter into an open-ended contract instead of a fixed-term contract.

For example, if an employee has been working for a company on one-year contracts for a period of five years, the company will be required to grant the employer an open-ended contract (that is, a contract without a term-limit) from the start of their sixth year if the employee requests it.

However, due to the fact that their previous “disposable workforce” will become much more difficult to get rid of should the need arise, there are fears that a number of workplaces will seek to dismiss those who would otherwise benefit from the revisions to the law before those revisions actually come into effect.

We expect to be publishing more articles and fuller explanations in the coming month.

Due to the ongoing union efforts, Tohoku University has announced that it will review its plan to dismiss more than 3,200 fixed-term workers, Akahata reported on November 1.

In June, it came to light that the Miyagi-based university plans to not renew one-year employment contracts with contingent workers who finish their fifth contract year. This plan was formed apparently with the aim to evade the revised Labor Contract Act which stipulates that an employer should offer open-ended contracts to fixed-term employees when they work for more than five years.

Tohoku University authorities said that they will offer indefinite contracts only to non-regular workers who are recommended by faculties as highly competent workers.

Following the university’s announcement, Tohoku University staff unions, the Union of University Part-Time Lecturers in Tokyo Area, and the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)-affiliated Miyagi Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions (Miyagi-roren) jointly issued a statement demanding that the university offer open-ended employment contracts to all non-regular workers in accordance with the principle of the Labor Contract Act which calls for stabilizing employment.

Tohoku University management on October 18 in a collective bargaining session with the unions explained that it will draw up a new plan by the end of this year while indicating no intent to convert all non-regular workers to regular workers. The unions are determined to keep pushing the management to provide full-time positions to all contingent workers.

(Japan Press Weekly)

Should Tohoku University successful get away with their unethical plan, there is the real danger that this could set a precedent for other companies to follow their example to “slash and burn” their veteran contracted workers in order to bypass the law entirely.

While unions wait to see which way the wind is going to blow in regards to Tohoku University’s “review” of their plan, this battle for worker’s rights could be a flash-point event that affects people all across the country – for better or for worse.

Naturally, we’re rooting for the unions and the workers to succeed.