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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 12 - 18  > Death of supermarket worker recognized as work-related
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2017 April 12 - 18 [LABOR]

Death of supermarket worker recognized as work-related

April 18, 2017
Akahata learned on April 17 that a labor standards inspection office in Saitama City has recognized the death of a supermarket chain worker from a cerebral infarction as caused by overwork.

The Abe government proposes a 100-hour limit for a legally-binding ceiling on overtime hours, as part of its “work style reform”. However, the number of overtime hours that the dead supermarket worker worked in the four months before suffering the brain disease stood at 76 hours per month on average.

On April 17, lawyers representing the worker’s bereaved family held a press conference to announce the labor authorities’ decision. They said that the person in question was a male employee of Inageya, which runs supermarket stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area. On May 25, 2014, the 42-year-old man suddenly became unable to speak clearly to customers at a store in Saitama’s Shiki City. He was taken to hospital by ambulance, but medical tests did not detect problems in his health condition. The employee started working again on June 2. Three days later, he was found collapsed at the store’s parking lot and hospitalized again. He died of a cerebral infarction on June 21.

The labor standards inspection office in June 2016 acknowledged the worker’s death as work-related on the grounds that he worked at least 76 hours of overtime on average in the four months before his death. The labor law enforcement office also said that irregular shifts caused additional damage to the worker’s health.

In 2003, another Inageya worker committed suicide after working excessively long hours at a Tokyo store.

The lawyers criticized the supermarket chain operator for failing to reflect on the worker’s suicide in 2003 and neglecting to take measures to prevent a recurrence. They also pointed out that many Inageya employees are suffering from the company’s wage-theft tactics such as forcing employees to start working before clocking in. The lawyers said that they sent a letter of request to the company demanding a survey on actual overtime hours, an apology to the bereaved family, and compensation.

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