Don’t put off the fire of the struggle
of 1047 dismissed national railway workers!
The Struggle against the Division and Privatization of National Railway
is not yet finished.
Doro-Chiba’s opinion on the “Reconciliation Plan of the
1047 workers’ issue”
April 9, 2010
An attempt of “Reconciliation” is under way on the issue
of dismissed 1047 national railway workers between the government -
the Railway Transportation Organization and the Four Bodies and Four
Organizations. Three governing parties and the New Komei Party have
reached an agreement on the “Settlement Plan” to be proposed
to the unions and/or organizations concerned.
We must clarify that Doro-Chiba, one of the concerned unions on this
issue, is excluded from all these procedures. We have not been informed
at all. As we learned from the report by mass medias, this “Reconciliation
Plan” includes no apology for the unjust dismissal of national
railway workers or withdrawal of the dismissal. Instead, it offers a
certain sum of money and justifies the unfair labor practice committed
by the state on the occasion of the Division and Privatization of National
Railway (in 1987). We condemn this plan as an outrageous offense on
1047 dismissed workers who have been fighting for their reinstatement
for their lives.
Following is a citation from the speech of Maehara, Minister of Land,
Infrastructure and Transport in the Diet discussion on January 29 in
the Budget Committee: “1047 people were unfortunately dismissed
in spite of the all-out efforts [of the JR management] to employ them”
“The government has done its part to the full extent” “Only
problem is that it took so much time to reach a solution. As those concerned
people are now considerably old, I agree with the idea of finding a
political solution.” In spite of this governmental recommendation,
every JR company is refusing the proposition of the four parties that
asks JR companies to hire as much as 200 workers (out of 1047). JR companies
insist, “The problems have already been settled on juridical level,
All these attempts intend to justify the Division and Privatization
of National Railway under the guise of “political settlement”
and nullify the struggle of 1047 national railway workers for 23 years.
We must denounce all activities of Kokuro (National Railway Union =
NRU) headquarters practiced under the name of “political settlement”.
The NRU leaders admitted the National Railway Reform Law, accepted the
court decision that “JR companies have no juridical responsibilities
for the dismissal of 1047 workers”, presented a letter of apology
to the government and JR companies, and sought to reach a “comprehensive
reconciliation” with JR companies, which means to drop all cases
of unfair labor practice. It has led to accepting all rationalization
policy of JR. And it will finally result in dropping the demand of withdrawing
unjust dismissal of national railway workers and a total abandon of
struggle and surrender.
The Division and Privatization of National Railway was the greatest
anti-labor offensive in the postwar era of Japan. Almost half period
of the development of Japanese labor movement in the post-WWII times
is covered by the violent confrontation against this attack, ranging
30 years since the setting-up of the Second Ad Hoc Commission of Administrative
Reform (in 1981) and the establishment of Nakasone administration (in
1982). During these years, 200,000 national railway workers were thrown
out of job and 200 workers were forced to commit suicide. Sohyo (General
Council of Trade Unions of Japan), a former major labor national center,
as well as Socialist Party was dissolved (in 1989 and 1996 respectively)
in the course of this development, bringing about a serious setback
of Japanese labor movement. Thereafter, under the over-all offensive
of neo-liberal policy, employment, wage, labor right and unity suffered
a terrible devastating blow and 40% of the total labor force has been
driven into irregular employment.
The persistent struggle of 1047 dismissed national railway workers for
23 years in frontal opposition to the Division and Privatization of
National Railway has constituted a decisive counter force against this
adversity. It is not only a fierce struggle against unprecedented mass
discharge in the Japanese labor movement’s history but an epoch-making
materialization of the great tradition of Japanese labor movement. That
is why a vast number of labor activists as well as rank and file workers
have been offering support to this struggle, finding their own future
in the development of 1047 national railway workers’ endeavor.
It must be added that it was also the major power that prevented and
has been preventing the reactionary ambition of Nakasone who formulated
his intention, “We aim at setting an honorable Constitution (that
is, reactionarily-revised constitution deleting the non-war clause)
on the altar through clearing the front floor by the Administrative
Reform (that is, liquidation of militant labor movement)”.
Doro-Chiba has resolutely been carrying out an uncompromising struggle
against the Division and Privatization of National Railway: we waged
two waves of strikes (Strike is forbidden by law for public service
sector employees) risking the job, fought back disciplinary measures
of firing 40 union members for strikes and other ant-labor offensives
and continued the struggle in the privatized JR company consolidating
labor unity and solidarity. What was tested was what labor union is
for and what workers’ pride is.
The privatization offensive presented us a demarcation point and now
after 30 years’ development we face a showdown, a historical crossroad.
The “reconciliation” will surely be ensued by the dissolution
of NRU and its absorption by JR Rengo (Japan Railway Trade Unions Confederation,
a born company union). In fact, between the two unions talks for “unification”
are under way in various forms.
We must pose a serious question: what was the essential cause of the
23 years’ struggle? Haven’t we been fighting to crush the
intention of Nakasone, the then prime minister, “destroy NRU and
Sohyo as well as Socialist Party through carrying out Division and Privatization
of National Railway”? Our struggle was to change the miserable
situation of labor movement, in which workers were forced to accept
outrageous capital offensives, and to get back labor unity and workers’
pride to us all. If NRU, a major union of national railway workers,
is to dissolve itself, the significance of the struggle of 1047 and
other militant railway workers for life will be lost for ever.
The issue concerns not only railway workers but also various sectors
of public service workers: violent attacks, slanders and repression
are raging over workers belonging to Jichiro (All-Japan Prefectural
and Municipal Workers Union) and Nikkyoso (Japan Teachers Union). A
thousand workers of the Social Insurance Agency were quite unjustly
dismissed and several thousands workers were transferred to irregular
employment through dissolution and privatization of the office. It is
just like the case in National Railway. But 525 militant workers out
of them have risen up against this outrageous offensive, categorically
refusing the direction of the management to accept shameful “voluntary
retirement”. In another occasion, namely, the planned introduction
of the Wider Regional System, 3.6 million public service workers are
going to be dismissed once and selectively re-employed later with an
aim of liquidating labor union and executing privatization.
In face of this urgent situation, we never admit any attempt to justify
the Division and Privatization of National Railway in the past and now.
It will give the enemy camp a freehand to carry out further destruction
and reactionary reorganization of Japanese labor movement and will cause
serious damage to the future of workers and labor movement. If the historical
struggle of 1047 workers against the Division and Privatization of National
Railway should be terminated in such a humiliating way, we would surely
face a fresh and overall privatization offensive and union busting in
a larger scale.
It is against the background of the present social crisis that all enemy
forces including the governing three parties and opposition parties
(Liberal Democratic Party, New Komei Party and Japanese Communist Party)
are hastily and desperately rushing to the solution of the privatization
issue. The original and basic point of the privatization issue is emerging
once again: class confrontation. They are afraid that mounting anger
of working people against the outcome of the privatization and deregulation
policy, spreading poverty, social disintegration, etc. could rally round
the struggle of 1047 dismissed national railway workers.
It was recently disclosed in the trial of Doro-Chiba fighting team
against Railway Transportation Organization on the employment issue
at the time of Division and Privatization of National Railway in 1987
that the names of the national railway workers who were later dismissed
in JR companies in Honshuu (Japan Mainland) had been originally on the
candidate list of employment before they were suddenly deleted by the
unforgivable intervention of Kasai, the vice chief of Employing Bureau
At that moment JR companies were faced with the serious shortage of
work force in new privatized workplaces in Honshuu area because a large
number of national railway workers “voluntarily” left the
job under extraordinary and violent union busting. The National Railway
management published in the press conference that it decided to employ
all former employees (regardless of union affiliation) in new privatized
JR companies now that the prescribed number decided in the cabinet meeting
was not filled.
This unexpected development upset the leadership of Railway Unions Federation
(now JR Soren, a company union led by Fascist) which passed an extraordinary
resolution on the union convention, declaring that it never admitted
the employment of all former national railway employees in new companies
and demanding the JNR management to stop hiring “destructive elements
opposed to the reform of national railway”.
This result was that 9 union members of Doro-Chiba were excluded from
the candidate list of employment. It was a flagrant act of unfair labor
practice of discrimination in hiring, carried out in cooperation of
the government, JNR management and union bosses of JR Soren.
The above-mentioned disclosure has revealed us the whole picture of
a discriminative employment on the occasion of the privatization, which
triggered a series of capital offensive of transferring ten million
workers to irregular employment. Now every thing is cleared up and there
is nothing left than to turn to general counter labor offensive.
The struggle against the Division and Privatization of National Railway
has not at all finished. All the work places of JR companies are now
faced with ultimate rationalization that demands total outsourcing of
almost all transportation business to several hundreds of sub- and sub-subcontractors.
Workers are forcibly dispatched and transferred to irregular employment.
Inevitable outcomes are the second and the third Amagasaki rail accident
(which killed the train driver and 107 passengers in 2005).
The issue of the neo-liberal and privatization policy is not simply
a transfer “from public hand to private hand” but rather
exhaustive outsourcing that raged over almost all enterprises for the
past twenty years. Let’s take an example of NTT (Nippon Telegraph
and Telephone Corporation): by the privatization in 1984, the company
was broken up into 347 companies and more than 90 % of all employees
were forced to leave the job and transferred to the workplaces of sub-
and sub-subcontractors. This offensive was called “outsourcing
revolution” in US, and was carried out in Japan by the initiative
of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a national strategy.
This strategy forced workers to plunge into the “competition to
the bottom”, broke up social link of solidarity, put employment,
education, medical care and social security under the market mechanism-based
competition and finally destroyed the whole social structure.
We recently declared to rise up for a major struggle for years, the
struggle against the second version of Division and Privatization, a
struggle for rail safety against rationalization. This new struggle
will materialize all important lessons of the national railway struggle
since Mikawashima and Tsurumi rail accidents (in 1962 and 1963 respectively).
By five waves of strikes since last autumn to this spring, we have already
achieved an initial victory to crush the JR (Japan Railway company)
plan of outsourcing due to start on April 1st. In the course of this
struggle, we have succeeded in gaining union members of JR-Soren East
to Doro-Chiba one after another. Our struggle has also a task of revitalization
of labor movement.
The actual cruel situation of workers is not a result of inevitable
development but has been brought about by the setback and degeneration
of labor unions. Without changing the present labor movement, nothing
will change. This is the core question of today.
We are determined to carry out our new struggle in a firm conviction
that the victorious struggle of 1047 dismissed national railway workers
and the struggle against outsourcing, or the struggle against the second
version of the Division and Privatization, would no doubt trigger the
explosion of angry voices of those workers who are now unable to find
a way of unity and solidarity in their isolation.
Recently reached “political settlement” is totally in line
with the acceptance of outsourcing offensive in JR, a stance far from
fighting against it. The reality is that several thousands of workers
are forced to be transferred or dispatched to external jobs and put
into irregular employment while negotiations over “reconciliation”
is going on. All through these developments, labor unions are going
through a serious devastation.
The whole Japanese society is filled with angry voices. Now is the
time to gather these voices into a united power. Its rallying pillar
will be the struggle of 1047 workers against the Division and Privatization
as a symbol of victorious future for Japanese workers and labor unions.
We shall never admit to put an end to the struggle in this humiliating
We repeat once again that the struggle against the Division and Privatization
of National Railway has not at all finished. Everything starts from
now on for Doro-Chiba and 9 members of Doro-Chiba fighting team. Don’t
put off the fire of national railway struggle. Finally we pledge to
continue the struggle of 1047 dismissed national railway workers for
23 years that was supported by many people all over Japan. The future
of working class is in it.
Let’s fight on!
DORO-CHIBA (DC): National Railway Motive Power Union of CHIBA