• Kyodo

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Kochi Prefecture on Monday punished 2,649 prefectural workers who took part in an hourlong strike in November.

By law, civil servants do not have the right to strike.

According to the prefecture, the stiffest penalty was handed to the employee union’s secretary general, who was suspended from work for one month. Another 113 senior union members were slapped with pay cuts and reprimands, while rank-and-file union members and senior members who did not strike received strict warnings.

Union Chairman Akira Hamakubo was not punished as he is not a prefectural employee.

The strike was to protest the prefecture’s decision to cut pay retroactively from April 2002. The union said the cut should not be retroactive.

Immediately after the strike, during which participants did not work for one hour at the start of the workday, Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto said he would severely penalize those who took part.

“It lacks common sense (to strike) at a time when most people in the prefecture are suffering under severe employment situations,” he said. In December, Hashimoto called on strike participants to return a portion of their winter bonuses referred to as a “diligence allowance.”

The union also organized a strike in 1996 over revisions to the wage system. At that time, around 3,900 people who took part were given pay cuts or written warnings, but the punishments handed down Monday were generally more severe, the prefecture said.

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