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2013年9月10日 (火)

ブラック企業 若者の使い捨ては許されない

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 10, 2013
Exploitation of young workers should never be tolerated
ブラック企業 若者の使い捨ては許されない(9月8日付・読売社説)

Businesses referred to as “black companies”—firms that compel young employees to work under brutal conditions—have become a social problem.

The Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry has embarked on on-site investigations of about 4,000 companies, which have markedly high attrition rates and where unpaid overtime and nonpayment of regular wages are common occurrences.

The ministry says it will make public the names of firms whose labor practices are deemed especially vicious. It should solidly grasp the prevailing situation and resolutely exercise its leadership in issuing corrective instructions to black companies.

There is no clear-cut definition of a “black company,” but such firms generally give their workers little choice but to work excessively long hours and treat them inhumanly as if they are worthless. There are many cases in which superiors intimidate younger workers through verbal abuse.

In some cases, employees receive no overtime pay even though they work more than 100 hours of overtime per month. Some workers are criticized repeatedly after completing their normal shift, and forced to practice how to serve customers. One young male worker was so depressed he quit his job and had no choice but to support himself on welfare payments.

A situation in which a young worker who, under ordinary circumstances, would play a role in helping to support the nation’s social welfare system through payment of taxes and publicly run insurance premiums, conversely becomes a welfare recipient is a true loss for society.

Unscrupulous companies that profit by passing social welfare costs on to society should be criticized as irredeemably selfish.

The recent increase in black companies is the result of a stagnation of job offers due to the business slump, and the labor market becoming a buyer’s market for employers.

Relief steps urgent

These exploitative companies hire young workers en masse, assuming that most of them would be unable to endure the harsh working conditions and eventually quit.

After hiring young workers, some firms assign abnormally heavy work burdens on them, permitting only those who fulfill their quotas to continue on the payroll to “fight” for the companies.

Ordinary companies provide new recruits with in-house job training to help them become fully fledged members of the firms.

Judging from what they are doing, however, black companies have no intention of tapping the abilities of new recruits or enhancing their job skills.

To prevent young workers from being compelled to accept unreasonable treatment because of their weak positions vis-a-vis management, a mechanism should be established so young employees’ voices of protest against harsh working conditions can be heard.

The ministry, for that matter, plans to create a telephone counseling service for young employees. Some lawyers’ organizations as well as the ministry’s “Hello Work” job placement offices also plan to expand counseling services for young workers. These programs should be effective in functioning as “shelters” for exploited young workers.

A European Union regulation makes it obligatory for companies to have workers rest for 11 straight hours or more every 24 hours.

In Japan, the Labor Standards Law stipulates the upper ceilings of working hours, but under special labor-management agreements, employees can be forced to work as long as the companies want.

It is a key task for the government to establish a system to restrict excessive overtime similar to that of the EU.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 8, 2013)
(2013年9月8日01時46分  読売新聞)


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