The History of Doro-Chiba's Struggle
Jul 14th, 2003

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The History of Doro-Chiba's Struggle

By The National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)

<Struggle before Doro-Chiba built>

The former body of Doro Chiba is one of local organizations (Local Chiba) of National Railway Motive Power Union (NRMU) : founded under the name of Locomotive Workers Union in 1950, name changed in 1957.
That consists of train drivers and car engineers of both Chiba prefecture and shinkoiwa area of Tokyo. Our 600 members work in whole Chiba, a part of Tokyo including Tokyo station. Retired members constitute OB club.
After Division and Privatization (D&P) of Japan National railways, company had kept down the recruiting of fresh persons. Even though they have restarted acceptance of new comers, they stopped them from joining us. Nevertheless we have got 30 and more new members after Privatization in 1987.

Not that militant Union at first we were, the series of so many struggles and train accidents such as anti Japan U.S. security treaty struggle in 1960, angers against railway accidents taking 320 lives in Mikawashima and Tsurumi areas in 1962 and 1963, anti rationalization battle against diminution of 50000 assistant train drivers, anti Vietnam war struggle, anti Japan U.S. security treaty revision fight and Okinawa struggle around 1970 and anti Productivity Raising Movement struggle which decreased workers as many as 60000 people during 2 years more, made us strong union. We got a lot of progress from that struggles building a firm basis for today.
Among them we want to underscore 2 important struggles. First is to keep the safety of train operation with fighting the very dangerous situation caused by streamlining and employee reduction. A member was arrested in Funabashi station accident in 1972. We countercharged that by several strikes and slowdown (in order to trouble train diagram) claiming, "the accident is caused by ignorance of train safety with profit-oriented policy". Finally we stopped firing of the worker and protected him.
Then "No struggle No safety " has been our most important slogan.
Second is solidarity with Sanrizuka struggle (farmers battle against Narita Airport construction) which is Japan's biggest farmers fight and anti State Power struggle after WW(II). We fought 100 days struggle rejecting Jet fuel transportation to Narita Airport going to be opened in 1977`78 among fierce oppressional attack to farmers, with a aim to maintain Labor and Peasant solidarity .

<New Doro-Chiba was born>

Thus Local Chiba has become the most militant democratic local body among National Railway Motive Union reinforcing inner unity. On the other hand National Headquarters of NRMU has changed its fundamental posture later of 1970s.
In 1978 convention they proposed (1)Abandoning strike tactic (2)Canceling the solidarity with Sanrizuka struggle. Local Chiba opposed anti-labor, anti-democratic policies.
National Headquarters even had beaten our representative at the lobby of convention site to oppress the addressing of our representative.
After that the Headquarters suspended the right of execution and membership of all our executive members, expelling 4 members including chairperson. These made us to decide to leave NRMU and get to be independent as Doro-Chiba March 30 in 1979.

About 2 years since we tried to protect our unity from destroying attack by NRMU headquarters under allowance of Japan National Railway (NR) authority bringing so many members injured.
NR authority discharged our secretary general in Dec. 1979, the chief of organization bureau in May 1980. Furthermore in 1981, 4 executive members including vice chairperson were fired for strikes against Jet fuel transportation to Narita Airport and cut back of 60000 workers from March 2 to 6 in 1981.

<Struggle against Division and Privatization of NR>

The most severe struggle among our history was fight against aggression with Division and Privatization of NR leaving 100 thousands workers misemployment.
Nakasone cabinet announced to divide and privatize JNR to start harsh aggression to destroy Unions in 1983. At that time 5 main Trade Unions ware in NR. Biggest one KOKURO (National Railways Workers Union NRWU) reduced its member from 224 thousands to 44 thousands showing how intense that aggression was. Besides that 130 thousands were dismissed either.
Nakasone confessed the aim of Division and Privatization (D&P) was to crush the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (SOHYO) national center of trade unions then. This indicates D&P was the national unfair labor practices to not only dismiss hundreds of thousands workers but also to dismantle the Japan's labor movement.
Responses to the aggression were divided among Unions of JNR. Against: Doro-Chiba, KOKURO, ZENDORO. Approval: NRMU and TETSURO (Japan Railway Workers Union). Among them NRMU became a worst agent of provocateur. Those 2 unions promoting D&P pieced together to Japan Confederation of Railway Workers (JRU).
KOKURO, which opposed D&P, first couldn't set a firm struggle because of confused organization management. The executive leader, in 1986 convention, proposed a compromising policy, met a hail of criticizing and was forced to withdraw the policy 3 month later in provisional convention. However those dispute triggered a lot of members to drop out and organization went into splitting situation.

Nevertheless we fought first strike in Nov.1985 and second in Feb. 1986 arguing the struggle against D&P is a deadly battle which decides the future of all proletariat and labor movement with organizing discussion among members and family too.
These strikes made big wave around country. We think those strikes, have been able to uncover the dirty character of D&P hidden by mass media's intentional campaign posting it as socially disputed agenda for the first time. Such basic stance we built up as a sacrifice taking battle is absolutely needed to maintain members solidarity from the aggression that claimed our surrender.
In those strikes government encircled our work place with 10000 riot police. With the authority discharging 20 members in first strike and 8 in second strike, that was accompanied by lawsuit requesting us as much as $300000, an unprecedented attack. In addition 12 workers was rejected to get seat in privatized new company Japan Railways (JR) in excuse of being suspended at those strikes. However we continued to fight successfully having many members to get into JR maintaining solidification. The strikes were the only walkout to challenge the D&P.

< The Start of New Struggle in JR>

National Railways was divided to 7 privatized companies, 6 were district ones and 1 was cargo specialized. We started new struggle in JR with 4 subjects.
1) Withdrawal of the decision of discharged workers.
2) Battles against forcible workers transfer, scrapping work places of our stronghold and attacks to organization.
3) Battle opposing rationalization (lean system) and maintaining safety train operation that was put in crisis by the ultimate downsizing with desperate work place conditions.
4) Revival of workers movement that fights the reactional politic moves and militalization either, that were propelled during D&P aggression.

We began new battle against forcible conversion of work position that transferred train drivers to commissary stores or first food stands with making continual strikes. We walked off for 72 hours against scrapping of Katsuura operation yard which was our strong point in 1995, set up a permanent footing of strike to stop the Union destruction in advance after 1996, battled against abolition of Sakura machinery yard. Struggle continues persistently like that.

We continue to fight as an anti rationalization struggle. Strikes began to protest at a time when one year's day of train accident robbing driver's life in Dec.1988 ;which was caused by illegal direction to ignore traffic signal to forefend diagram disorder, to struggle against stretch out of workload in 1991, against stretch out in every year's diagram revision, against outsourcing of train checking and repairing work with 2002--2003 strikes, slowdown action etc.

As an anti-dismissal-struggle we have got a big gain letting the authority to withdraw the discharge of 28 members who were fired in excuse of first and second strikes resisting D&P in 1985,1986 with tenacious struggle such as strikes from Jan. to March in 1990, mass protest actions, lawsuits to labor committee and legal court.

However JR East Company attacked us with blocking the Union office against strike during March 18 to 21 in 1990. We counter attacked this by running into strike earlier than designated time. They filed a lawsuit us claiming $180000 and more saying "It's illegal strike".
Now we have carried over the protest calling for the withdrawal of dismissal of 1047 workers (consists of Doro-Chiba, NRWU, ZENDORO).

And then we put our efforts in reviving workers movement at the same time with encouraging struggles of anti war, militarization, destruction of the system of employment, wage, social welfare and workers rihgts.

Workers' biggest national center SOHYO was dismantled in 1989 ending to convert their stance to pro-government, capitalist side. We set up an organization by gathering activists over the country for resurrection of laborer movement and constituted Anti War Joint Action Committee when the series of wars were attempted commencing with the Gulf War in 1991. We formed the National Network of militant unions either calling on freshly mixed concrete workers Union of Kansai branch, and National metal machinery workers joint Union that have fought fundamental and militant workers movement.

Peculiarly Iraq War of March 20 and urgent moves to ordain Emergency Law shocked us. On the other hand, we were encouraged with international hot wave of "Don't attack Iraq" movement.
We ran into 90-hour strike from March 27 to 30 appealing anti Iraq War, stop the Emergency law, stop the disimproving of labor laws; unstable employment and giving capitalists the right of free-dismissal. Those are accompanied by efforts to build a broader anti war struggle with 20 Unions out of Land, Sea, Sky, Port related workers and "Stop the road to war, one million signature campaign" who are leading players of these movements.

Now we face the critical situation that Emergency Law passed in Diet that mobilizes us to wars in June 6. We are determined to enhance the struggle. We call on slogans "Stop the military occupation of Iraq, Don't attack North Korea, Let's spread the struggle appealing Don't complete Emergency Laws, Never set in motion the laws, Never comply with that.".

<New State of Struggle for Withdrawing Dismissal>

Our 16-year-struggle for backing down discharges confronts new troublesome stage. Our partner KOKURO's executive has nearly convert its position giving up to difficulties with prolonged struggle.

The outset of moves come from government and LDP (ruling party Liberal Democratic Party). They instigate KOKURO executive to surrender promising to request JR company to set a talk table for resolving the dispute if KOKURO passes the decision admitting that JR is innocent on firing workers and withdraws a lawsuit in KOKURO convention. Then executive decided to accept this proposal ignoring fierce opposition in a convention.
Not only that, government and LDP even request KOKURO to expel the members to continue to fight. And executive took up that too.
In addition they sold members over police who appealed to keep up struggle and protest with giving tape-recorded videotape of a provisional convention May 27 in 2002 as a tool of police oppression. Seven members and 1 supporter were arrested and have been put in jail as long as 8 months. We now fight by all means to spread the struggle to impeach unfair and all-time frame-up suppression by police power.