Goodwill officials held for double dispatch of temps

Kyodo News

Three officials of temp staff agency Goodwill Inc. and a former executive of Tokyo-based harbor transport company Towa Lease were arrested Tuesday for alleged “double dispatch” of temporary workers, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Arrested were Taisuke Uemura, 37, chief of Goodwill’s business planning division, two other Goodwill officials, and Ryuichi Egawa, 47, former managing director of Towa Lease.

According to the police investigation, Towa Lease sublet several workers sent by Goodwill to another company for several months from around late 2006.

Goodwill is suspected of sending workers to Towa Lease despite knowing they would probably be dispatched to a third company, police said.

The move came after the police searched offices related to Goodwill and Towa at the end of January over the alleged double dispatch of temp workers.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Tokyo Labor Bureau in early January, Towa Lease dispatched to a company in Yokohama and other firms a total of 29 workers who had been sent by two branches of Goodwill between February 2005 and last June.

Double dispatching, or sending temp workers to companies that in turn send them on to other firms, is banned under the employment security law because it blurs responsibility regarding the safety of workers and other aspects of employment.

Towa Lease was found to have engaged in double dispatching after a man in his 20s who was working at a pier in Koto Ward, Tokyo, broke his leg in an industrial accident in February 2007. The man had been dispatched by Goodwill to Towa Lease.

After conducting an investigation, the Tokyo Labor Bureau, a unit of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, found that Towa Lease illegally dispatched 1,240 workers sent by Goodwill to engage in stevedore work, which is also unlawful.

Police suspect Goodwill may have engaged in unlawful conduct in a systemic manner with the full knowledge of management.

The staffing agency was ordered by the labor ministry to halt operations nationwide for two to four months starting in mid-January due to a series of legal violations involving double dispatch and the dispatch of temporary workers to jobs they were not permitted to undertake.

Goodwill Group Inc. is considering selling its scandal-hit subsidiary Goodwill Inc.

The scandal dealt a blow to Goodwill Group, which had already been battered by its withdrawal from the nursing-care business in 2006 after authorities terminated the operating licenses for another subsidiary over the submission of false declarations to obtain the licenses.

The problem prompted Masahiro Origuchi to resign as Goodwill Group chairman in March, while the group tried to rebuild its business with financial assistance from U.S. investment fund Cerberus and U.S. brokerage Morgan Stanley.