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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 November 7 - 13  > Young hairdressers form labor union
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2007 November 7 - 13 [LABOR]

Young hairdressers form labor union

November 1 & 5, 2007
“The beauty industry treats us as a disposable workforce. I want people to know that most of us working in this industry have been deprived of the right to speak out,” said Yanagi Katsuya, a 23-year-old hairstylist who represents a newly formed hairdressers’ labor union.

Yanagi is working for “Ash”, a well-known hair salon chain which has 82 outlets across the country. He works from 8:30 a.m. to midnight without overtime pay and receives a base salary of only 115,000 yen a month. Moreover, the company deducts expenditures unaccounted for in advance from his salary under the pretext of “education fees” and “fees for mutual aid.”

Yanagi and other young hairstylists on October 31 established a hairstylist union affiliated to the Tokyo Young Contingent Workers’ Union, a labor union in which part-timers, temporary workers, and other contingent workers can join individually. The newborn union claims that the nonpayment of wages for overtime and the deduction of unaccounted expenditures violate labor laws and demands that Ash pay its employees in back pay.

At a press conference in Tokyo on the same day in which they made public the establishment of the union, Tokyo Young Contingent Workers’ Union Secretary General Kawazoe Makoto stressed that because Arte Salon Holdings Inc., Ash’s parent company, is a member of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), corporate social responsibility is called into question.

As the first street campaign of the hairstylist union, Yanagi and members of the Tokyo Young Contingent Workers’ Union on November 4 took to the streets in Shibuya, a district popular with young people. They called on passers-by to help eradicate workplaces in violation of the Labor Standards Law.

In front of an Ash outlet, they chanted to employees in the shop, “Let us have the company put an end to the abnormally long working hours and unpaid wages! Let us create better working conditions!”

A student who participated in the union’s campaign said, “Harsh working conditions prevail over the entire beauty industry. I hope that with the case of Ash as a start, overall working conditions in the industry will improve.”
- Akahata, November 1 & 5, 2007
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