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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 5 - 10  > Non-regular postal workers fighting in court for fair treatment
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2017 January 5 - 10 TOP3 [LABOR]

Non-regular postal workers fighting in court for fair treatment

January 6, 2017
Twelve fixed-term contract workers of Japan Post are fighting in court, demanding equal treatment with regular workers.

Asakawa Kiyoshi is one of the plaintiffs and a member of the Postal Industry Workers’ Union (PIWU). He has been working at a post office in Tokyo since 2007. His six-month employment contract has thus been renewed 20 times.

The 45-year-old employee works eight hours a day, five days a week and works overtime about 20 hours a month. He belongs to a 19-member team consisting of both regular and non-regular workers which delivers 8,000 to 10,000 mails a day. In addition, Asakawa is required to do clerical work pertaining to delivery work and even has to respond to complaints from postal service users.

There is little difference between Asakawa and his full-time colleagues in terms of work hours and job responsibilities. However, just because of his employment status, Asakawa is not eligible for the company’s fringe benefits such as paid-vacation leave. For example, Japan Post pays an additional 4,000-5,000 yen a day to regular workers who work during the New Year holidays, but not to non-regular workers. Regular workers can receive larger amounts of early-morning and late-night allowances than non-regular workers. They are entitled to take three days of summer and three days of winter vacation. They can take up to 90 days of paid-sick leave while fixed-term employees can take only 10 days of sick leave without pay.

Along with 11 other non-regular workers who are PIWU members, Asakawa in 2014 began a court battle against Japan Post, claiming that the disparities of allowances and holiday policies are unfairly large and illegal. Japan Post justifies the gaps, by insisting that regular workers are expected to shoulder heavier job responsibilities than other workers.

If the court acknowledges the disparities as illegal, it will have a positive effect on working conditions of not only the plaintiffs but also 20 million non-regular workers in Japan. The PIWU is backing Asakawa and his peers by such means as forming a support group and holding rallies together with workers in other job fields fighting similar court battles.

PIWU Chair Himaki Naoe said, “Around 190,000 non-regular workers are working in Japan Post group companies. Without them, post offices would not be able to operate for even a single day. These workers wear the same uniform as regular workers and have the same responsibilities. It is essential for Japan Post to offer stable employment to all its workers. Only by doing so can the company provide universal postal services.”

Past related article:
> Non-regular workers sue Japan Post for equal working conditions [ July 2, 2014]
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