However, this article was of the former “related to labor issues in some way” breed, and it seemed like an interesting story to fill a day with (especially considering it’s not easy to find an article about labor issues for every single day of the week).
In case you’re not aware of the article in question, here’s a brief summary:
So, here we had an article written by Britain’s BBC News, based on an article by Japan’s Kyodo News, about how four players of the Japanese basketball players being punished by their employer as a consequence for actions they took during their free time.
It shouldn’t be difficult to see how that is a labor-related issue.
In fact, the article produced a discussion between some members of our Facebook community about ethics in schools vis-a-vis the abuse of positions of power.
However, much to our surprise, we received complaints about linking to this article.
Now, posting any article that’s perceived as being negative towards Japan attracts complaints from people because this is the price of having a presence on social media.
That part wasn’t too surprising because – again, for whatever reason – it’s expected
This one was a bit different, though, because we had people complaining to union staff about it.
We were accused of “Japan Bashing“.
Let’s put this into perspective:
The players were being sanctioned because of their conduct outside of the workplace.
Yes, the players were free to do whatever they wanted in their free time, but they chose to do so while wearing their team uniform, therefore associating their employer with those actions.
Suffice to say, they had to deal with the consequences of their actions later on.
(Would the end result have been the same had they not paid for sex while wearing their team uniform? It’s hard to say! They certainly would have been less conspicuous…)
Many contracts have a kind of “morality clause” for regular workers – a clause that says you should not bring a company’s name into disrepute.
– Yasuhiro Yamashita (Chef de Mission of Japan)
Does this affect General Union members? Absolutely.
Although it might not seem obvious, this story is relevant to union members (and pretty much anyone working in Japan).
We’ve dealt with numerous cases of discipline and even dismissals due to behavior outside of the workplace – things like fights in bars and subway trains come to mind.
You might think it’s fair enough that someone is sanctioned for these kinds of actions.
However, people have also been disciplined for things like company anti-socialization clauses which prevent teachers from socializing with their adult students and in one case, even marrying a student.
In fact, one of our first major disputes with NOVA in 1994 came from company attempts to force workers to submit to drug tests.
In the two latter cases, the union was able to intervene by bringing the cases to the Bar Association Human Rights Committee which ruled with the union that these bans and drug testing were a violation of human rights. The married teacher even got his job back!
While many may think that these players got what they deserved, many will argue what people do in their free times should not be dictated by their companies (which, in this case, was the team).
In fact, there are companies that used to use the “this is the Japan and if you don’t like it leave” argument against the union in an attempt to shut-down negotiations and our demands.
Pointing out the negatives in the society around us is not “Japan-Bashing”.
Ultimately, while dismissal laws are strong in Japan and do protect workers, there is an important lesson to learn from the Japan’s indiscreet basketball players:
What you do outside of work can have an effect on your employment, even if you think it shouldn’t.