Report of Amagasaki Anniversary Rally on April 24
27 April 2006

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(Union News "Daily DORO CHIBA" No.6078,)(Japanes)

Report of Amagasaki Anniversary Rally on April 24

On April 24, the Underground Hall in Chiba Citizen Chamber was packed by 380 people: our members in Doro-Chiba railway union, trade unionists in the other unions in the same Chiba Prefecture and comrades in Doro-Chiba Supporting Society. Some could not enter the Hall and had to stay at the lobby next to it. The rally was filled with excitement.

The main slogans of the rally were:
Don't Repeat Amagasaki Accident!
No to Rationalization!
Victory for Safety Train Driving Struggles!
Withdraw the Dismissals of JNR 1047 Workers!
Stop Deterioration of the Constitution!
Say No to Privatization and Deregulation!
Rise up All the Workers!


The opening speech was given by Toshiyuki OSADA, secretary general of Doro-Chiba union. He said: "Today should be the day not just to criticize Amagasaki Accident, not just to send our sympathies to the deaths of 107, but should be the day to renew our resolution for the Safety Train Driving Struggle. We have to stick to the basics of our union - "No Fight, No Safety" - and overturn unjust discipline to the workers fighting Safety Driving.

"We are ready to blow train whistles tomorrow on the very time Amagasaki Accident happened last year, the same date and the same time. But the JR Co. has already posted walls with warning and preparing disciplines. They do not want workers to speak out. But it also means that they are afraid of us. Our fight is shaking privatized JR Co. as a whole."


The next speaker was Izumi ISHII, chair of committee resisting "Hinomaru and Kimigayo (Emperor's flag and song)" in Chiba Prefecture High School Teachers Union.

He, himself, has been disciplined after Sit-Down Struggle to show his objection to Hinomaru and Kimigayo. He said: "I have fought Sit-Down for years at entrance and graduation ceremonies. In Chiba prefecture, just like Tokyo, they started to discipline us under the name of disobedience to orders. But we CANNOT let them enforce Hinomaru and Kimigayo. Let's stop deterioration of the Education Standard Law and the Constitution! Let's block the road to another war!"

His speech was followed by Mr Yamamoto, secretary general of Doro-Chiba Supporting Society. He said: "It is not companies who have the control of train service but the workers in reality. This was shown again today when we had an accident at Yamanote Line (Tokyo loop line). A train driver realized the danger and slowed down its running speed which was quite right thing to do for him. I say, the bosses are trying to discipline, to strangle the safety itself. Nowadays, every time we leaflet in front of Chiba JR station, they mobilize managers to interfere. This is the true colour of privatized JR Company."

After the messages from a victim of Amagasaki Accident who got severe injuries and from Transportation Workers Solidarity Committee in the US were read out, the rally had a speech by Yasuhiro TANAKA, president of Doro-Chiba. The theme was "Accident in Amagasaki, Accident at Uetsu Line and Struggle against Rationalization but for Safety Train Driving". (Outline is given at the bottom of this article)

Tetsuya MURANAKA, former assistant chair of Japan Federation of Aviation Worker's Unions.
Masahiro SHIRONO, steering committee member of Solidarity Union of Japan Construction and Transport Workers, Kansai Area Ready-mixed Concrete branch
Yukio ONUKI, secretary general of Japan Plate Glass Joint Struggle Trade Union
Koichi YASUDA, journalist


We had 4 special reports on "Safety and rank and files".

Tetsuya MURANAKA, former assistant chair of Japan Federation of Aviation Worker's Unions.
Masahiro SHIRONO, steering committee member of Solidarity Union of National Construction and Transport Workers, Kansai Area Ready-mixed Concrete branch (KAN-NAMA).
Yukio ONUKI, secretary general of Japan Plate Glass Joint Struggle Trade Union.
Koichi YASUDA, journalist.

The 1st report was "Deregulation and Air Accidents, National Emergency Acts and the Safety in the Air" given by Tetsuya MURANAKA, former assistant chair of Japan Federation of Aviation Worker's Unions.

He talked about history of fatal air accidents and aviation workers' movement. He said: "JR is privatized and divided companies. JAL (Japan Airlines) is half state-run half private company. But either way, there have been no accidents when the unions were strong and fighting. The history tells us how important the trade unions are - its existence itself and fighting, of course. The military usage under National Emergency Acts destroys the safety in the air. We cannot let them use our sky for military purposes."

The 2nd report was "Concrete Buildings, Safety of Ready-mixed Concrete and the Fight against Massive Oppression" given by Masahiro SHIRONO, steering committee member of Solidarity Union of National Construction and Transport Workers, Kansai Area Ready-mixed Concrete branch (KAN-NAMA).

Workers in medium and small fluid concrete companies have been victimized under cement makers and general contractors' double controls. KAN-NAMA solidarity union has organized such workers and fought for the quality of fluid concrete, its reasonable price and employments and working conditions of people who work for it.

Mr. Shirono said: "One of the major tasks of trade unions is to watch and check the management. If trade unions are just following the orders of the companies, they are useless. We need fighting trade unions.

"The police raided our head quarters and arrested some of our leadership last year, and detained our president more than a whole year. This massive oppression means how they are scared of our fight. They are desperate to destroy our organization. Competitive society means victimization. Only the trade unions and workers can change it."

The 3rd report was "Fighting against Asbestos Disaster" given by Yukio ONUKI, secretary general of Japan Plate Glass Joint Struggle Trade Union.

He said: "Our senior colleagues used to wear heat-resistant cloth made of asbestos during work. We voted for strike in 2004 and demanded the company (1) to apologize to those who have become sick because of asbestos, (2) to survey the damage conditions, (3) to carry out medical examinations at which patients have their rights to choose doctors, (4) to pay the compensation, and we won the agreements for these demands.

"Not just present full-time employees, but also retired, part-timers, and workers for related companies have won industrial accidents compensation, and set-up "Asbestos Fund".

The 4th report was "from the Accidents scenes in JR" given by Koichi YASUDA, journalist.

He said: "JR West Company is insisting to say "106 victims" instead of 107 in Amagasaki Accidents. Why? They do not want to accept their own responsibility and are scheming to transfer the blame onto the train driver and his "qualities" as a driver. Accidents in Amagasaki and Uetsu Line have happened against a backdrop of privatization, deregulation, rationalization and business climate. It is just like construction standard problem under which amount of reinforcing steels have been skimped in order to make more profit. As long as we have fighting workers like you, I will be with you."

Each of 4 special reports was given in a short time, but portrayed the problems very well. All of them highlighted the importance of fighting trade unions.



At the end of the rally, 5 members of Doro-Chiba union expressed their determinations to fight:

"On February 16, we regained at last the unity of whole 1047 dismissed workers belonging to 3 trade unions and 5 disputing bodies. On April 4, dismissed workers and their supporters pledged to fight together in solidarity. We still have difficult problems but one common enemy. We are eager to beat this enemy. (Mr. Takaishi, one of the dismissed 1047 in Doro-Chiba union)

"I am angry at the discipline against our Safety Train Driving Struggle. They did not mention even "s" in safety in their warning against our Blow Your Train Whistle Actions. The managers are supposed to, normally; make a pledge for safety when we commemorate Amagasaki Anniversary, but they behaved completely opposite way. I will keep stand up in front of Safety Train Driving Struggle." (Mr. Yamaguchi, rep of Chiba Train District branch)

"On April 6, there was a derailment in a depot and the boss disciplined the driver. I'm really angry at this. It is the very spot we have demanded the Automatic Train Stop system for the passed 3 years. And it is the bosses who refused to install ATS there. They said "we can't because it costs money"! Our branch will definitely support and protect the disciplined driver." (Mr. Yamada, rep of Makuhari District branch)

"We can never accept the punishment on the Safety Struggle as one of the workers who drive on the same rails. Our branch in Cargo section is also standing in front of the struggle against rationalization and for driving safety. (Mr. Yamashita, rep of Chiba Engine Section branch)

"After seeing broken rails for 3 consecutive years, I have spearheaded the Safety Train Driving Struggle. The managers described our fight as violation of rights for running and controlling trains and forced disciplines. But it was quite natural choice for workers and trade unions to slow down the speed when we saw the collapse of the safety as the lives of passengers are on our shoulders. Crew Section branch is now in the middle of researching the present situation. We are planning to demand the bosses to improve the condition with the result of it. We will keep fighting to protect lives of our crews and passengers. We are fundamentally the same workers and their families." (Mr. Hashimoto, rep of Crew Section branch)


The rally on April 24 was filled with passion and lots of good speeches.

We will stick to our basic: "Fight Against Rationalisation, Fight For Safety Train Driving" under the "No Fight, No Safety" slogan. And we will fight for another struggle smashing abnormal massive oppression by JR East Company.



"No to Unjust Discipline! Smash the Transfer of the Blame! Win the Revival of Fight Against Rationalization and For Safety Driving"

JR East Company disciplined our Safety Train Driving struggle. Tomorrow, we will blow the train whistles to express our sympathies and determinations at the time Amagasaki Accident happened. But the managers posted walls with warnings and prepare another discipline. They disciplined some Kokuro union members after they were interviewed by a weekly magazine and criticized the collapse of the safety.
The bosses insisted that "the credit of the company has been hurt". This is utterly abnormal. But it means they are really afraid of our fight which is in the middle of spreading.

On April 6, we had a derailment in Makuhari depot. Our union needs to face this. One of our members made an accident and has been blamed by not just bosses but the public and the media as well. What can we do as a trade union? This is, in fact, the basic of our traditional struggle against rationalization and for safety train driving. There was no ATS installed there. It was just like the situation when there was Mikawashima accident in 1962. The safety measure had been neglected by the bosses. The train driver is not the one to blame at all. It is JR Company to blame and to be sentenced. We cannot let them shift the blame to the driver. And building up the fight to protect the driver means, I believe, building up the fight to stop another Amagasaki accident.

Today, rail tracks have been deformed at Yamanote Line. This is completely the same situation as in accident on February 20 this year. It was told, first, subsidence of the rail, but actually the rail was swelled. They repeated the same mistake with no reflection. They have outsourced the rail maintenance section as a whole and completely lost the necessary techniques. Tracks have been broken. We are working and commuting in the real danger.

Accidents after the division and privatization of states-run JNR can't be separated and independent. The direct cause might be different but all have happened against a backdrop of criminal politics: privatization and deregulation. The safety has been managed so far only thanks to rank and files' efforts. We need to smash the unjust discipline and keep our fighting.

We cannot build up safety without workers' unity and fighting, without forcing it to the capital. The core of the struggle is the fight against rationalization. As long as rationalization is going on, accidents are waiting to happen. The fight against transfer of the blame to the workers is the most important core of our struggle as workers serving for the railway service. We cannot stop our steps. I want everyone here renew your determination for this fight.

Furthermore, this fight is to revitalize the workers' movement in Japan. We, the Doro-Chiba ourselves, have become fighting union through the fight against rationalization and for safety driving.

Let's organize all the workers' angry voices against privatization offence. Our two major battle fields are Safety Struggle and 1047 Dismissed Workers' Struggle. The focal point of fight against the Constitution amendment is, in fact, trade unions and trade unionism, too. Let's follow the French workers' tracks! The fight of the workers is the radical power to change the present society. Let's regenerate workers' movement!

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