Starting National Railway Workers Struggle Anew

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Starting National Railway Workers Struggle Anew

Resolution adopted at the National Railway Struggle on February 14, 2016

On June 30, 2015, Doro-Chiba achieved to oblige the Supreme Court in the Tekken Kodan case (lawsuit against the Railway Construction Corporation, the succeeding corporation of Japan National Railways, on discriminatory employment) to rule that unfair labor practice had been made by the Establishment Committee of JR and the railway authorities in the course of the Division and Privatization of National Railways—“The standard of exclusion in employment to the worker of the Japan National Railways (JNR) was designed by the intension of unfair labor practice.”

We made all-out efforts to run country-wide signature gathering campaigns: visited various workplaces and labor unions, carried out signature-collecting campaigns on the streets and so on. On June 7 last year, on the very day of our Nationwide Workers Rally, we have finally accomplished 100 thousand signatures that demands the court to rule granting withdrawal of the dismissal and reinstatement of 1,047 fired national railway workers to Japan Railway Companies (JRs). The overwhelming power of workers exhibited all through this vigorous movement forced the Supreme Court ruling.

In the Tokyo District Court on December 16, 2009, Doro-Chiba provided convincing evidence that the then president of Establishment Committee of JR ordered to make the standard of exclusion in employment to the workers of JNR. It is clearly written in the section 23 (article 5) of the JNR Reform Act that the performance of the members of the Establishment Committee of JR is that of the succeeding corporation JR. The JNR Reform Act itself clarifies that the JR has a legal responsibility.*

In April 2010, the “political settlement” of the 1,047 workers’ issue was done aiming to put an end to the National Railway Struggle. We then established Nationwide Movement of National Railway Struggle under the slogan of “Don’t put out the fire of the struggle of 1,047 dismissed national railway workers!” and have been continuing the struggle gathering the power of workers all over the country. By the achievement of the movement we have overcome the defeatist mentality— “We cannot compete with the JNR Reform Act”.

Even though, the ruling of the Supreme Court denied the withdrawal of the dismissal and reinstatement of fired national railway workers to JR. The state power is consistently eager to defend the JNR Reform Act and maintain the system of Division and Privatization of JNR targeting to end the National Railway Struggle.

In August last year, at the meeting to report our activities, we confirmed that we would valiantly start again on a new note. In September, Doro-Chiba demanded JR East Company to reinstate 9 dismissed members fired at the time of Division and Privatization of JNR and hold a collective bargaining on this issue.

From now on, we will start to run a new country-wide signature gathering campaigns demanding the withdrawal and reinstatement of 1,047 JNR workers to JR. We will surely hold JR Company accountable for the withdrawal and reinstatement of 1,047 workers. This is a new struggle for labor movement to finally defeat the program of Division and Privatization of JNR.

Our new struggle is to fight back against the historic assault on labor rights by the Abe government such as wholesale deregulation of Worker Dispatch Law, introduction of “White Collar Exemption” and the regulation allowing unilateral dismissal of workers with monetary damages, and Abe's scheme for constitutional revision and war.

Now, after the Division and Privatization of JNR, we are confronted with the harsh reality in this society. Privatization and outsourcing are rampant all across the society. Irregular employment surpassed 40 % of the whole workforce. Over 20 million people are forced to live under 100,000 yen (about $885) per month. Social security systems and local communities are on the verge of collapse. Recent bus accident in Karuizawa which killed 15 people has demonstrated an example of serious collapse of safety.

In the midst of the intensification of impending world war especially in the Middle East, East Asia and Korean Peninsula, the Abe government railroaded the new security legislation last year. In the coming upper house election in July he intends to make the constitutional revision the focal issue of the dispute by means of introducing an emergency clause.

While the so called “Abenomics” is going to collapse, the Abe administration has violently rushed to the structural reform of the labor market, the revision of the constitution and actual preparation to launch war. Every thing is exceeding the limits of people's’ patience. We are now witnessing a profound change in workers’ consciousness. We will set free our anger and vital activity at this time, and so we will change history.

The task of our fresh struggle of national railway is to disclose that the whole project of the Division and Privatization of National Railways as a starting tool of neoliberalism was fundamentally a fatal error and to clarify that workers can develop successful struggle in solidarity if labor unions decide to fight at the right moment and on the vital issues. The possibility of revitalization of labor movement exists exactly in the actual situation and the contradictory realities as awful outcome of collapsing neoliberalism. Confronting a great turning point at home and abroad decades after the Division and Privatization of National Railways, we must start discussion and action anew, and fight back the capitalist offensives with the fresh national railway struggle at the forefront. 

Let’s start the fresh signature campaign, and step in the second stage of national campaign for the reinstatement of 1,047 unjustly fired railway workers! Let’s struggle against outsourcing, casualization of workforce and radiation exposed work! Let’s create National Federation of National Railway Motive Power Unions in every workplace of Japan Railways! We should create class-struggle labor movement in every industry and workplace—especially among municipal workers, education workers, postal workers. In solidarity with Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and militant labor movements over the world, let’s organize class-struggle labor movement with the national railway struggle at the forefront! 

*The Division and Privatization of JNR was a bankruptcy scam planned by the very government. According to the JNR Reform Act:

(1) Although all the rail tracks, stations and other railway facilities almost all of personnel were succeeded by the privatized seven rail companies (JRs), the legal liabilities were to be “succeeded by the JNR Settlement Corporation.”

(2) All the personnel were to be fired at once and then they were to be “newly hired” by different companies (JRs).

Utilizing these provisions, all the previous court rulings exonerated the JR Companies' legal liability on the firing of the 1,047 workers. The Doro-Chiba's lawsuit made a historic breakthrough forcing the Supreme Court to admit JRs' responsibility on the firing.

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