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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 5 - 10  > JMITU local at IT firm wins in labor talks for cuts in overwork
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2017 January 5 - 10 [LABOR]

JMITU local at IT firm wins in labor talks for cuts in overwork

January 10, 2017
The Japan Metal, Manufacturing, Information and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (JMITU) branch at an IT company won cuts in the upper limit of monthly overtime under the so-called “36 agreement” to 80 hours from the current 125 hours.

Japan’s Labor Standards Act in Article 36 allows for setting a ceiling on overtime with a labor-management agreement which is dubbed the “36 agreement”.

Tokyo’s Shinagawa-based ISB Corporation conducts business activities in the IT field, such as software development for mobile devices and IT system building.

JMITU branch leader Koizumi Ryuichi said, “I entered the company in 1988. At that time, it was normal for me to work more than 100 hours of overtime every month.” Another union officer, Shibayama Masato, said, “Since I joined the company, I have been assigned to a section developing IT systems for banks and securities companies. So, when those client companies needed to change their IT systems drastically, the number of overtime hours I worked a month sometimes exceeded 150.”

Calling for a reduction in working hours, Koizumi and Shibayama together with other workers in 1994 established their union which was affiliated with the All-Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers’ Union (JMIU), the predecessor of the JMITU and a member union of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

Since the foundation, the union repeatedly demanded that the company take measures to accurately count the number of hours each worker worked and protect workers from having to work long hours. Thanks to the union’s efforts, the number of workers who have to work at least 80 hours of overtime a month, the government-set danger line for death from overwork (katoshi), decreased. Seeking to place a restriction on more than 80 hours of overtime worked, the union in autumn 2015 requested the company to revise the 36 agreement which sets the 125-hour ceiling on monthly overtime.

The union made this request because they were encouraged by the fact that a task force to abolish excessive overwork was set up in the Labor Ministry’s labor bureaus in Tokyo and Osaka about a half year ago. This move was made in response to questioning by Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kira Yoshiko in the Diet about measures against corporations imposing excessively long working hours on their workers.

In autumn 2016 in labor negotiations, the company agreed with the union to lower the maximum monthly overtime to 80 hours.

The JMITU ISB branch head said, “In the IT industry, excessive overtime is common practice at many companies. Under such a circumstance, I understand that some ISB workers may regard cuts in overtime as a disadvantage. In order to appeal to those workers and achieve a further reduction in overtime, the government should introduce measures to put a cap on working hours.”

JMITU is working to realize a 45-hour ceiling on monthly overtime as designated in the Labor Minister’s notice.

Past related article:
> Gov’t will make public names of ‘black corporations’ [March 28, 2015]
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