Mazda temp-staff practice ruled illegal

Yamaguchi court: Displaced 13 should be regular employees


The Yamaguchi District Court ruled Wednesday that Mazda Motor Corp.’s temp-staff employment practice is illegal and recognized regular employee status for 13 former temp-staff workers displaced by the automaker.

The rare recognition that displaced temporary workers should be regular employees is expected to affect similar pending lawsuits. The court also ordered Mazda to pay wages that the 13 should have received as regular employees.

The temp-staff worker law requires companies to directly employ workers dispatched by temporary staffing agencies if the employees continue work at the firms for three consecutive years.

Under its temp-staff employment practice, Mazda directly employed temporary workers as “support employees” for just three months after their three consecutive years of service, later shifting their status back to temps.

The practice to effectively maintain workers as temporary staff for more than three years violated the temp-staff worker law, the court said.

The ruling came in a suit filed by 15 plaintiffs — some of whom worked as temporary staff at Mazda’s Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture for up to five years and seven months before being displaced during or after the outbreak of the global financial crisis in December 2008.

The court found 13 of the 15 plaintiffs as subject to the support employee system and recognized them as regular employees.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in April 2009, claiming that Mazda had been adjusting the hiring period to be less than three years by temporarily hiring temp-staff employees as regular employees for about three months under the “support employee” system.

The plaintiffs said the system allowed Mazda to “hire skilled temp workers for a long time but fire them whenever they wanted,” calling the act “loophole.”

Meanwhile, Mazda had claimed that temp workers had accepted to work as temp staff and “support employee” positions out of their own volition.

“Mazda had not intended it, and therefore, it does not violate the law,” Mazda’s lawyers said in court.

Mazda called the decision regrettable, adding that it will consider what to do after pouring over the content of the ruling.

In June 2009, the Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectural labor bureaus recommended that Mazda correct the “support employee” system.

Shinji Eto, 48, one of the plaintiffs who had been displaced by Mazda, told the court last April that he just wanted to live a normal life, being paid for his work and occasionally being able to go out for drinks with friends.

“I want to say with pride that producing cars at Mazda is my job,” Eto said. “I just want to live a normal life.”

  • bgt13

    Love my Mazdas, but treat your employees right! These things matter to consumers too you know.

    • Mark Garrett

      This is going on all over Japan. My wife worked for Yamaha Motor for 3 years as temp staff before finally giving up and looking for work elsewhere. These companies are abusing the system. Temp(orary) staff are supposed to be brought in when someone has to depart abruptly, or for maternity leave, etc. It was never intended to be a way for companies to skirt paying bonuses or giving benefits. 3 years is far too long. It should be 1 year maximum.

      • Supreme court supports suppression of workers through protection of wrong doing companies, to protect the weakening Japanese economy. I personally experienced such a dirty practice in Japanese Judiciary. All legal experts were shocked to hear such a dirty decision.

      • Mark Garrett

        It just shows the level of coercion and corruption at all levels of corporations, courts, and politics. The majority of the oppressed temp staffers are women and minorities who are doing the yeoman’s work while the lifer salarymen stretch out 6 hours of actual meaningful work into a 12 hour day.

      • Perhaps so, but they are also in essence abused. I think companies are between a rock and a hard place.

      • Guest

        Would you care to elaborate? I’m not sure who you mean by “they”. Companies? And how are companies “between a rock and a hard place” as far as employment goes?

      • High costs of regulation in Japan, flat local demand, absence of population growth, recession & strong yen abroad.

  • My sympathies to both company any employees; you have both been screwed by govt – foremost the American Federal Reserve (even though private, it functions as quasi-govt) for precipitating the financial crisis. Companies need to be able to function in a non-distorted market in order to plan. Employees who are more vulnerable are destined to pay the price. Sadly, its the corporation who’s identified as the culprit by people who don’t understand economics. My advice to voters is to stop sanctioning the actions of illegitimate government. Rescind the ‘power of attorney’ you have essentially given to politicians – who are strangers to you, and at best the most despicable sales sharks you could conjure in your minds.

    • Mark Garrett

      You don’t have to be an expert on economics to know when you’re being taken advantage of. I completely agree about the sad state of affairs that the criminals on Wall St. and Capitol Hill have put all of us in, but even though the U.S. gov’t treats corporations as people, I do not. Real living breathing human beings caused the financial crisis, and it’s real living breathing humans that are making the conscious choice to deny hard working individuals the right to be called employees.