The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is threatening the livelihoods of nonregular workers across Japan, with many part-time and contract workers losing income.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, said Monday that it received 191 emergency phone consultation requests last Wednesday and Thursday, of which some 70 percent were from nonregular workers.

Consultations about compensation for absences from work accounted for close to 40 percent of all consultation requests, reflecting the impact of school closures on nonregular workers. The government late last month called for emergency closures of elementary, junior high, high and special needs schools nationwide.

A female worker on a one-year contract as a teacher at a special needs school said, “I was told not to come in for work from tomorrow” due to the school closure and that she would not be paid compensation.

“I am struggling because suddenly I don’t have income,” she said.

“The classes I was in charge of are gone, and I lost my income,” a female yoga instructor said.

Concerns about face masks were also raised in the phone consultations. A cram school instructor said that she had been instructed not to wear masks at work.

Meanwhile, a male worker at a face mask maker complained of overwork. He said: “There have been no days off since February. I often stay overnight at the factory, and my overtime is close to 100 hours a week. At this pace, I may die.”

A union of instructors at Japanese-language schools held a meeting Monday to seek compensation payments from the government. A large number of Japanese-language schools have been closed this month, and many part-time instructors are without income.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.