‘Unfair’ ’87 dismissal of JNR unionists slammed

Kyodo News

The government’s handling of the 1987 privatization of Japanese National Railways, which forced out over 1,000 unionized workers, is criticized in a document attached to a settlement package recently drafted by the ruling coalition and New Komeito.

The dismissal of 1,047 workers, which focused on members of the National Railway Workers Union (Kokuro), was “an unfair labor practice on an unprecedented scale,” the document states in an unusual criticism of past state policy, sources said.

Drafted by the three ruling parties plus the small New Komeito, the package features a settlement of roughly ¥28.7 billion and a request for the Japan Railway companies created in the privatization to hire around 230 of the workers aged up to 55.

The four parties plan to submit the package, including the document, to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in the near future, the sources said.

The document also says “overt discrimination was adopted in the acceptance” by JR companies of former JNR workers, as the privatized companies hired workers who supported the selloff of the state railway or left Kokuro at a substantially higher rate than Kokuro members.

JNR intimidated Kokuro members, resulting in a fall in the union’s membership from around 200,000 to 44,000 in just over a year, the document says.