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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 15 - 21  > NHK contractor sued for wage theft
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2018 August 15 - 21 [LABOR]

NHK contractor sued for wage theft

August 17, 2018

Young workers at an NHK contractor are fighting a lawsuit against the company’s wage theft.

Sayama Yuta, 28, in May 2017 began working at MRS Co. Ltd (Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture), a contractor for Japan’s sole public broadcaster, NHK, to collect TV reception fees and expand the base of TV subscribers.

MRS receives payments from NHK based on the number of subscribers acquired. In order to gain profits, the company imposes tough subscription quotas on its workers, which leads them to work excessively long working hours.

Sayama keeps a record of his work time on his own initiative as the company does not record hours worked. According to Sayama, he works 11 hours a day on average and is forced to work 80-100 hours of overtime per month. However, he never receives overtime pay. Sayama pointed out that in addition to overtime pay violations, the NHK contractor engaged in various illegal labor practices. The company, for example, cut the wages of workers on the grounds that they failed to make their quotas.

Sayama once requested an NHK local office in Ibaraki Prefecture to instruct MRS to stop using workers under such exploitative working conditions. In response, the NHK local office showed a “nothing to do with us” stance.

Seeking advice, Sayama consulted with a Japanese Communist Party local assemblyperson and decided to take bring the matter to court. He called on his co-workers to jointly stand up against the company and four young workers joined with Sayama. They filed a lawsuit on July 13 with the Tokyo District Court in a bid to claim unpaid wages.

One of the four workers, 20-year-old Ueno Kazuya said that he participated in the lawsuit because he hopes to help to make a change in society so that workers’ labor rights will be fully protected.

In response to an Akahata inquiry, MRS declined to comment on the matter. NHK gave a similar response, but said that it will take proper measures if its contractor is found to have committed a grave breach of labor laws.

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