Four subcontractor employees to sue Tepco for Fukushima No. 1 dangerous-work benefits

JIJI

Four workers engaged in the decomissioning of reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nulcear plant plan Wednesday to file a lawsuit demanding the utility pay a total of ¥91.4 million in “dangerous-work” benefits, the attorney representing the plaintiffs said Monday.

It is the first time for people still working at the plant to pursue dispute payments, according to sources.

The four male workers, aged between 34 and 65, two of whom are still employed by a Tepco subcontractor to work at the plant, were assigned from May 2011 to this month to engage in such work as the removal of debris at reactor 3 and inspection of the vicinity of a tank containing highly radioactive water.

The plaintiffs claim the subcontractor, their direct employer, orally explained that the dangerous-work benefit would be paid but only a token amount was paid to one of them. They also noted that Tepco, when questioned during a Diet session, said it was paying ¥10,000 to ¥100,000 per person in such benefits.

In a press conference Monday, the attorney, Tsuguo Hirota, said Tepco is liable for the payment as it “was responsible to supervise the subcontractors so that the dangerous-work benefit was paid to all workers, but it didn’t.” He also said he wants to bring to light how workers are exploited by subcontractors of Tepco.

A Tepco representative said: “We haven’t received the petition documents and don’t know the details (of the suit), but would like to deal with it appropriately after we learn about their demands and what they are saying.”