STOP THE SUSPENSION OF UNION DRIVERS!
10 June 2004

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(Union News "Daily DORO CHIBA" No.5892,)(Japanes)

STOP THE SUSPENSION OF UNION DRIVERS!
BOSS SAYS "GIVE UP DRIVING"

The Japan Railway (JR) Company have handed out a set of long term driving suspensions - more than a month - in the Chiba driving section and other sections (Chiba is the name of prefecture next to Tokyo). They claim that union members "were sitting with their legs crossed while working". What reason is this to suspend us from driving for more than a month!? We are baffled!

THEY BLAME THE WORKERS!

They are the ones to blame for a series of accidents: Last year's mass traffic confusion at Chuo Line with the overhead line changes and the collision between construction machinery and a moving train at Keihin-Tohoku Line, etc. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport gave an unusual "Improving Business Operation Order" to JR Co. at the end of last year. Despite its seriousness, the bosses still try to evade their responsibility and to transfer the blame to workers. Their misapplication of long-term driving suspensions show it clearly. They desperately try to insist "we have given directions to workers and done what we were supposed to do" in order to avoid public criticism. We cannot let them keep doing this.

The National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba) proposed the file number 26 demanding these suspensions are stopped, at a meeting with the JR Co. Chiba District on 21 May, and we criticized them.

THEY SAY "IT'S NOT A PENALTY BUT A KIND OF PENALTY"

Below is the answer that the boss in JR Chiba District gave us at the meeting.

UNION: What is the reason for this driving suspension?

BOSS: It will give us time to re-educate employees. We need to do this in order to prevent driving accidents and to evade customers' complaints. We will investigate the reason for the accidents taking into consideration the employees' accident history and working practices.

UNION: Who's decision is it whether to suspend?

BOSS: It is for the Section Chief to decide suspension. The District also gives instructions according to its guidelines.

UNION: Do you consider the driving suspension to be a penalty?

BOSS: The driving suspension is not a penalty under the working regulations. But it contains a kind of penalty factor to make them to think about their work practices.

UNION: What is the meaning of a suspension on the grounds of "crossing the legs"?

BOSS: We wanted them to understand proper working practices.

UNION: A union member has just been ordered to rewrite the business plan. You have urged restoration of trust but have actually only found fault. Long term driving suspension for such a trivial thing could damage pride of workers with decades of driving experience. Do you think the company has reaped any benefit from the recent suspensions? What you have set up is a rule by fear in order to make workers obey you.

BOSS: With the rewriting of the Business Plan, we want employees to understand where the company stands now.

ARBITRARY SUSPENSIONS BY SECTION CHIEF NAMEKATA

The boss in JR Chiba District said the driving suspension was "not a penalty", but they have actually suspended workers from driving for a month and a half. If this is not a penalty, what is? Workers interpret these arbitrary suspensions as punishment. We cannot allow them to do this any longer.

We declared at the table that if they do this again, we will decisively fight back.

IMPROPER REMARK BY SECTION CHIEF

JR Chiba Section Chief Namekata has repeatedly made inappropriate remarks with no regard to his social status and responsibility. When a driver happened to speak to him at the end of his shift, and said his eyes felt heavy, Namekata started to tell him to quit the driving work.

Section Chief Namekata: "Don't continue driving any more. You'd better go to Makuhari inspection and repair yard."

If he understood his responsibility as section chief, he should never make such a suggestion.

Chiba District, at the table, said: "The worker said he felt his eyes were heavy just in the course of conversation. The two of them just understood it differently. The remark was not made with malicious intent."

How can they say it was "not with malicious intent?". All the workers in Chiba Driving Section know what was meant.

Namekata gave an order on "Whistle" which forced workers to violate the regulations last year. But Chiba District insisted "there was no violation of regulation" and took him under their wing. And once again, they are trying to protect him.

Section Chief Namekata is to blame. He should not be in this job. We insist that JR Chiba District and Namekata agree never to impose such suspensions again!

DORO-CHIBA (DC): National Railway Motive Power Union of CHIBA
Email: doro-chiba@doro-chiba.org
Web: http://www.doro-chiba.org/
English page at: http://www.doro-chiba.org/english/english.htm

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