March 1, 2014

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Declaration of Doro-Chiba 70th Regular Union Committee Meeting

March 1, 2014

Doro-Chiba adopted today a new policy of struggle on the 70th Regular Committee Meeting held in the Union Hall. We underlined our newly founded resolve to continuously fight for the reinstatement of 1,047 fired national railway workers, fight against outsourcing, forced transfer to a subcontractor and the JR Freight Company’s wage cut, to win 2014 Spring Offensive and crush Abe administration.

The decision of the Tokyo High Court on September 25 last year was a reactionary and contradictory one similar to the first instance that obstinately refused to reinstate fired national railway workers while it recognized that mass firing at the time of the privatization had been an unfair labor practice of Japan National Railways (JNR). It means that the judiciary authority itself violated the principal of labor law—“In case of any unfair labor practice, it should be restored to the original state.”

Although the decision was reactionary as a whole, Doro-Chiba’s 27-year struggle has at last revealed the truth of the unfair labor practice committed by the State. Justice is on our side. Now is the time to conclusively fight against the privatization and division of JNR and gain a perfect victory. We take a firm decision to fight with utmost effort in order to achieve a definitive judgment in the Supreme Court for the reinstatement of fired railway workers to Japan Railway Company (JR). We are determined to actively work on a fresh 100,000 signature campaign.

Last October, JR Company extended its scheme of outsourcing from repair and inspection branch to the field of planning operation work in an attempt to outsource the jobs of its workers to Chiba Train Service (CTS). CTS adopted a lot of regular employees to carry out this project. But it is the JR Company, not CTS, is actually training CTS’s new employees as a workforce for the jobs. This is really a disguised subcontracting. Many Doro-Chiba members were transferred to CTS in October 2012, but the procedure of this transfer lacks the necessary four conditions of shukko*. Everything, including disguised subcontract and forced shukko, is evidently illegal. Doro-Chiba has filed an action demanding a declaratory judgment to cancel these unlawful shukkos. This lawsuit is now also at a crucial point.
*shukko: transfer of parent company employees to other company (usually an affiliated company), in which transferred employees work under the supervision of the latter within a specified time (at least on paper) but maintain the employment contract with the former and therefore the right to wage and benefits of the former.

Through this past year’s struggle, we have launched a new attempt to organize JR and CTS workers in a united struggle to crush JR’s outsourcing scheme. The future of all workers rests on this anti-outsourcing struggle. We will aggressively fight it out. And during this struggle, we go all the way to expand union organization and will surely land the victory.

The inner contradiction of the Division and Privatization of JNR has been most typically illustrated by the disastrous situation of the JR Freight Company*. Wages of its workers are continually cut. Even 30 years after the JNR privatization, the JR Freight Company cannot bring forward its turnaround road map and its existence is barely supported by the government's funding, destroying workers' life with harsh pay cuts. This fact shows that JNR privatization scheme has already ended up in a total failure.
*The D & P of the JNR was arranged with an aim of separating and cutting off unprofitable sections and debt burdens from profitable ones. The infrastructure of JNR was divided into six regional companies, which operate only passenger transport; different from these regional companies, the privatized JR Freight Company has been provided with no rail tracks and very few cargo yards, which created very serious financial problem and dependence on passenger companies. As for passenger companies, only three of them—East, Central and West Companies in the Main Island of Japan—skimmed off profitable sections.

JR Hokkaido's abysmal rail safety, which has been successively exposed in recent years, was also brought about by the D & P of JNR. Almost every day we are confronted with rail accidents of extraordinary character, and it has been revealed that systematic falsification of track maintenance records were committed by the whole company for decades, and two consecutive suicides of the Presidents of JR Hokkaido* were reported. Inevitably, criminal complaint against the company was filed to clarify the reason of the repeated rail accidents and to find out responsibility. All these horrible development means nothing but the fall and bankruptcy of the JR. Especially the maintenance and inspection system of JR is totally corroded. All the technological capabilities for it were lost because of the terrible lack of experienced rail workers. It was the Privatization—mass firing and workforce cutback, reckless speed-up, competition fundamentalism, overall outsourcing— that led to this devastation. Not only the Hokkaido JR but also workplaces in other JR Companies are also plagued by such reality, as shown by the recent derailment and train rollover in Keihin-Tohoku Line in the suburb of Tokyo.
*In September 2011, the then President of the JR Hokkaido, Naotoshi Nakajima, committed suicide. In January 2014, ex-President of the same company, Shin'ichi Sakamoto, also killed himself. The reasons were still unknown.

It is time to do away with the JR system. On Tuesday, February 25, we protested in front of the Head Office of JR Freight. Our priority now must be further development -of the struggle against rationalization and for rail safety, our long- fought traditional struggle, in order to revitalize class struggle labor movement.

The Abe administration is desperately driving for war and constitutional revision. It is stirring up nationalism and chauvinism by means of propaganda on the territorial issue. The aim of Abe is a total transformation of Japan into a state capable of waging war, a war state. To carry out this policy, he has pushed through the legislation of the State Secrets Protection Law, now intends to change the government's interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, to review the three principles on weapon export and to establish state control over mass media and public education.

In other field of the politics, Abe is attempting a reactionary amendment of the Worker Dispatch Law to drop the restriction on irregular employment, an introduction and expansion of the system of “regular employee in limited job category, working place and term” in the name of “flexibility in employment”, relaxation of the regulation on working hours and an overall privatization of public services. His aim is to carry out casualization of all the working people and to thrust them into deeper poverty. Consumer tax hike and dismantling of the social security system is on the way to complete these assaults on working class.

The rush for a war state gains strong impetus in face of the class situation, in which dissatisfaction of workers inevitably mounts against brutal governmental attack. Here lies the real essence of the Abe administration. It reveals the collapse of the ruling system. Let’s rise up to overthrow Abe administration immediately.

What terrifies the class enemy most of all is revitalization of labor movement. Each worker’s efforts to continue struggles in workplace will create the unity of workers. The strength of workers’ unity gathers all angry voices in workplaces and so facilitates the creation of greater movement. Eventually, the labor movement will be revitalized. This struggle changes this society and determines the course of history.

Therefore, our urgent task is to recruit more new members to our union. Our consistent struggle since the Division and Privatization of National Railways in 1987 has never been defeated by the enemy. The struggle carried out by Doro-Chiba, a relatively small union, has been shaking the foundation of enemy’s assault on working class.
Our victory in recruiting more members will prove that the situation of the class struggle is changing.
Let’s rise up for organizing our union by gathering all members’ efforts!

DORO-CHIBA (DC): National Railway Motive Power Union of CHIBA