Devastation at Workplaces caused by Privatization-Market principal & Union busting
16 May 2005

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(Union News "Daily DORO CHIBA" No.6076,)(Japanes)


No Fight, No Safety - We should never let the disaster happen again (No. 2)



- Murderous politics did! Its name is Division and Privatization of railway!

- JR West Company did!

- Deregulation politics did! It was led by the Ministry of Land
Infrastructure & Transport!

- Company Union did! They are the one who represent not workers but bosses!


The Division and the Privatization of state-run Japan National Railway left distorted "JR" Companies that put profit first, hustle to destroy the trade unions and workers' unity, regard railway transportation just as measure to pursue profits and do not mind of sacking 200,000 workers.

JR-Soren (Japan Confederation of Railway Workers' Unions), the then Doro headquarter, cowardly shrunk from the intensive attacks, converted, and ended up to become minion of Privatization, limb of the bosses. Headquarter of Kokuro (National Railway Workers' Union), then the biggest railway union, had no fighting policy despite the fact that its rank and files were furious against the attacks and eager to have the fighting directions. None of those unions have thought about and fought for the driving safety seriously.

JR West Company has had the weakest financial basis in the 3 JR companies in the Japanese main land, and has adopted the most obvious, naked competition politics. They have praised the market principal best and called it as Neo Liberalism. They have praised deregulation politics and called it as Structure Reform. Nowadays, you can see all those attacks in variety of industries and their role model is the Division & Privatization of Railway.
The disastrous accident at Amagasaki was its inevitable consequence.


Mass media is now campaigning to blame workers who went to play bowling or had private parties at the day of the accident. They insisted to say that "It is a bad custom which has remained since the JNR period", and tried to make ordinary people hate the railway workers. It is a hideous smokescreen to hide the real cause of the accident.

But these kinds of things have never happened in the JNR period. In those days, workers had unity in their workplaces. They felt solidarity through the daily activities. They understood how important the safety is, and shared the serious recognition why they have to fight against accidents.
Workers, before the Privatization, had healthy sense to deal with accidents.

It was not just "moral sense". When one of our fellow drivers and a passenger lost their lives at the time of Higashi Nakano accident and when another driver lost his life in Osuga crossing accident, none of us, NO ONE, went to bowling or thought to do that kind of things. Workers in drivers' seats, railway stations and maintenance jobs could think nothing but the accidents with rage, with feeling of chagrin.


So, how come the sense has been lost? It is the Privatization that smashed and exterminated the unity in our workplaces. One in three workers were about to be sacked in the process of the Privatization. Many workers became trapped by egoistic idea to think just about their own survival, in stead of fighting against the attack collectively in solidarity. Some trade unions did it as organized unions. Bosses focused all of their energy on union busting. Unfair labour practices stormed all the workplaces. Still now, these intensively discriminating ruling have been going on with the help of JR-Rengo (Japan Railway Trade Unions Confederation) in JR West, and JR-Soren in JR East. The devastated workplaces came from nothing but these 20-year long outrageous realities of solidarity busting.

This is also a result of "Competition Principal" and its politics. The bosses agitated not just competition with other private railways which media have reported so far, but competition has also been introduced among the same JR Companies, among branches, among workplaces. Workers were forced to think about its business performance as number 1 priority, and ended up to kick fellow workers down with no compunction. Thus, legions of people have lost sense of solidarity and started thinking about just their own interest.


The boss who received a telephone call from a few driver workers, who happened to be in the derailed train as passengers, was only interested in the time schedule of their subordinates. He just thought of his "mission" to make his men work on time, and did not and could not think about asking the report of the accident, could not understand the seriousness of the accident. This was, in a way, quite natural consequence of "No Delay! Not A Second!" policy. The bosses have gotten used to squeeze the workers every bit of a time.

It was the Company, actually, who organized the bowling event at the day of the accident. It was a part of personnel management. From the perspective of bosses in local branches, what matters is how many employees they can organize. For the workers, a good attendance means to give their bosses a good impression. Many speak ill of bosses and say "It's no fun to play bowling with them and drink with them", but join the events.

It leaves robot like managers who can obey to their bosses without conditions and repeat the commands to their subordinates, and workers who can just think about self-protection and keep obeying to any orders.


A journalist, Takao SAITO, wrote in Tokyo Shinbun newspaper on 8 May:

"The vast majority of the media have kept praising the Privatization so far.
As a consequence, lots of people have started to see JR's labour management as ideal role model...

"It is OK if people see the bowling event problem at Tennoji Area as one of the aspects of market principal's problem and business logic's problem to neglect safety and to undervalue the people's lives. But I want to make sure that it should not be understood just as moral problems of the participants of the bowling.

"In this very sense, I felt frustrated with the way of report by media companies that said nothing about the relation between the derailment accident and the cabinet's vote for Postal Office Privatization related bills, even though they have been reported one after another. Toyota way of labour management has already been installed in the postal offices, and Karoshis (death from overwork) and suicides have dramatically increased.
Families of the victims have sued the Office on the ground that it has violated the Constitution which assures rights of living. They are closely connected each other."

Yes, he is absolutely right. What is to blame is criminal politics of Division and Privatization of the JNR itself. And obviously, Company Unions should be also to blame.

No Fight, No Safety. This is the time to regain unity in all the workplaces.
What matters now is the very basis of trade union: its class consciousness.

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