TEPCO: Half of contract workers at Fukushima work under dodgy conditions

December 05, 2012

By TOSHIO TADA/ Staff Writer

Nearly half of contract workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the disaster there last year toiled in conditions that apparently breached labor laws, according to a survey by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator.

More than 1,000 workers apparently fell into this category.

The employment security law prohibits a subcontractor from recruiting people for the purpose of just getting them to work for a client company.

This means the subcontractor, not the client, is responsible for giving on-the-job instruction and providing whatever equipment is necessary.

Temp staff agencies are not bound by such restrictions.

The survey released Dec. 3 found that 1,160 contract workers received on-site job instruction from those other than their employers. The figure accounted for 47.9 percent of all contract workers at the nuclear facility surveyed.

TEPCO's survey, conducted in September and October, covered 3,974 contract workers.

It said 3,186 contract workers provided written answers.

Of this number, 2,423 worked while receiving on-site job instruction at the plant.

Asked whether their employers are the ones that gave them on-site job instruction, 1,160 contract workers answered negatively.

Thirty-six percent said their employers did not provide them with working conditions in writing, a violation of the Labor Standards Law.

With regard to working conditions, 29.8 percent said their employers explained the situation to them verbally, while 6.2 percent said they were given no explanation, either verbally or in writing.

Some respondents said they were afraid of speaking up about possible breaches of labor laws because they feared losing their jobs.

Other respondents said some workers apparently were linked to crime syndicates.

In response to the findings, TEPCO said: "We did not have an accurate picture of the circumstances (surrounding contract workers), but we will tackle this issue and improve their work environment."

TEPCO had previously said it was not aware of the situation surrounding workers hired by subcontractors.

By TOSHIO TADA/ Staff Writer
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Workers in protective gear at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nulcear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2011 (Pool)

Workers in protective gear at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nulcear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2011 (Pool)

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  • Workers in protective gear at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nulcear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2011 (Pool)

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