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
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