Alcohol Detection Regime
2 July. 20 July 2004

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(Union News "Daily DORO CHIBA" No.5903,) ( No.5911,) (Japanes)

Alcohol Detection Regime
They Say "Amend it", We Say "Don't Bring it in!"

The Doro-Chiba railway union is against the enforced introduction of an Alcohol Detection Regime to be used on staff at roll call in the Japan Railway (JR) Company. JR was planning to start this regime from 1st July but they then proposed 2 changes:-
1. To postpone the starting date to 1st August.
2. To amend the regime so that measuring would take place again 30 minutes after the first measuring despite the fact that the 'detecting alcohol' red indicator had already registered twice.

...IS THE ALCOHOL DETECTION DEVICE RELIABLE?

We think not. The Detector has been in tentative use for several months and there are clearly problems with it. The JR Company insists that it detects alcohol consumption accurately, but they are now beginning to lose their credibility:

For example, the detector registers 'red', i.e., detects alcohol of more than 0.1mg per liter, when in contact with cordial drinks, mouthwash and badbreath wash. It shows indicate "red" in contact with some foods in which wine or sake are present.

The Doro-Chiba union has pointed out these problems to management, and has opposed, time after time, the introduction of the detector regime. We believe the JR Company must examine the union's evidence in detail, come to terms with the reality and clarify the problematic points. If they enforce the detector regime onto workers, they must at least be able to clearly justify why they are laying off workers then the detector registers 'red'.

JR's proposal to amend the regulation and postpone its introduction is no solution. We say 'Don't bring in this alcohol detection regime. Stop its enforcement'.

...WAS IT PROPOSED BY A UNION?

We have heard that Alcohol Detection Regime was initially proposed by Akira Matsuzaki, virtual head of the JR-Union. Even now, workers are suffering the strong control and supervision by the boss in their work place. If it really is the case that this was proposed by the union side then the union is nothing more than a traitor, in the same league as strike-breakers and scabs.

The JR Company started to talk of "discipline reinforcement" after the last year's accidents due to subcontracting. The National Land and Transport Dept then made an unprecedented 'Improving Business Operation Order' (there was just one precedent before), in which they drew the JR Company's attention to administration and safety procedures which were company responsibility. JR's reaction has been entirely shameless: blaming the workers and tightening service regulations very harshly.

Meanwhile the JR-Union, who have been colluding with the JR Company over privatization of the state-run Japanese National Railway, insisted that they were interested in "defending our company", and "doing what we have to do".

The Introduction of Alcohol Detection Regime and its enforcement was begun within this context...

Drivers feel worried about what is actually detected by the detector test. Doro-Chiba has demanded that the JR Company release the information they hold. The bosses said that:-
* 37 people had been suspended from driving in whole of East Japan area
* 18 cases of 'Red' detector signal during first check in Chiba district
* 13 cases of 'given other work than driving' after second detector check in Chiba district, in the passed few months.

We have also asked how these workers will be treated, and what is happening to driving schedule when drivers have tested 'red' on the detector, and being checked again 30 minutes later, even when those drivers deny drinking alcohol, claiming to have only eaten something. Bosses say they decide what to do after seeing the result of detector 30 minutes later. If this shows 'green' then the workers are allowed to drive. If shows 'red' again, then the workers are not allowed to drive, and are paid nothing for all their time wasted while being subjected to the tests. This is a big problem, but bosses insisted: "You are being treated according to working regulations". "We will treat you just like we have treated you so far".

But now, we know that the alcohol detector reacts even without the consumption of alcohol and is unreliable. Its imposition makes workers feel nervous, pressurised and discriminated against. We have to continue to demand the suspension of this regulation.

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

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