• Japan


for the first time in the 35 years since the Japanese unit of the U.S. fast-food giant started operations, the nation’s largest labor union group said Monday.

The union, with about 200 initial members including outlet managers, notified the management of its establishment, said the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, better known as Rengo.

Rengo has launched activities to solicit about 5,000 regular-payroll workers and about 130,000 part-time workers at about 3,800 outlets nationwide to join the union.

It is the first time a major hamburger chain in Japan has had a labor union.

McDonald’s management said it will deal sincerely with the union.

According to the union’s charter, there is a need for negotiations with management on working conditions of regular payroll and part-time workers as some store managers are forced to work more than 2,000 hours of overtime a year.

“We have anxieties over our future rather than about the company,” Hiroaki Kurihara, the head of the labor union, told a news conference.

“We have had opportunities to talk with management, but we cannot be fully frank given boss-subordinate relations.”

The charter says the deterioration of working conditions stems from management’s policy to place top priority on increasing sales by promoting such strategies as round-the-clock operations and 100 yen hamburgers.

McDonald’s Japan was established in May 1971 and its first outlet opened in Tokyo’s Ginza district that July.

The company said last year it had failed to pay 2.2 billion yen in wages to more than 100,000 workers for past overtime work. An outlet manager has sued the company, demanding unpaid overtime wages.

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