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A case of labour malpractice?


May 27, 2013


Subcontractor chided for sacking Fukushima decontamination work whistle-blowers



FUKUSHIMA -- The Fukushima Labor Standards Inspection Office has ordered a subcontractor engaged in the Fukushima nuclear disaster cleanup to correct its labor practices for firing three male employees without prior notice, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The three men allege that they were fired by the subcontractor, based in Sapporo, after they approached the project's prime contractor and blew the whistle on alleged corner-cutting. The allegations surrounding their sacking led the labor standards office to issue a rectification order to the Sapporo firm on suspicion of violating the Labor Standards Act.

The city of Fukushima, which has contracted out decontamination work, is looking into the case, sources say.

According to the labor standards office, the prefectural capital placed an order with a joint venture formed by two local firms to conduct decontamination work in the city's Matsukawa district. But the subcontractor dismissed the three workers without prior notice on May 23.

After being contacted by the three fired workers, the labor standards office checked with the Sapporo firm which on May 24 admitted to firing the three men. The office advised the subcontractor to take corrective action and the subcontractor subsequently paid the three an average wage of about 330,000 yen each.

The Labor Standards Act stipulates that workers must be notified of dismissal more than 30 days in advance, or if an employer dismisses them effective immediately, they must be paid more than 30 days of an average wage.

Fukushima Municipal Government regulations governing the decontamination contract state that vegetation for incineration should be separated from soil to help reduce waste.

The labor standards office says the three workers were employed on May 20 and were ordered by the subcontractor to put both soil and vegetation together in bags on May 21 and 22. The three workers were fired one day after notifying the joint venture about the work procedure.

The labor standards office quoted the three as saying they were fired because they told the prime contractor about the order. The office said the subcontractor, however, maintains it fired the three because of their work behavior.


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