Rampant violations of labor-related laws in decontamination work

July 25, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

FUKUSHIMA--Nearly 70 percent of companies engaged in decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture were found to be in violation of job-related laws, according to the Fukushima Labor Bureau.

Of 388 companies, 264 firms, or 68 percent, had breached the Labor Standards Law or the Industrial Safety and Health Law in a total of 684 cases, the bureau said July 24.

The firms have been instructed to clean up their act, it added.

In on-the-spot inspections from January to June, the bureau uncovered 473 cases that violated the Labor Standards Law and 211 cases that breached the Industrial Safety and Health Law.

The Labor Standards Law violations included not clearly explaining the labor conditions, such as wages including the hazard allowance, and not paying wages.

The Industrial Safety and Health Law violations included not spending the required time for special safety education.

In March it was revealed by The Asahi Shimbun that some companies were not paying hazard allowances to decontamination workers and were instructing them not to talk about the non-payment to government inspectors.

When the labor standards inspection offices mount on-the-spot inspections, they have to implement them without giving advance notification to companies.

However, the Tomioka Labor Standards Inspection Office notified a company in advance. As a result, workers were instructed to lie to inspectors by saying they were receiving hazard allowance.

"In cases in which companies have to prepare related documents for our inspections, we notify companies of our inspections in advance,” said Yasufumi Kikuchi, director of the bureau's labor standards department, on July 24.

"Because of that, the Tomioka case does not correspond to leakage of inspection-related information by staff of the inspection office," he said. "But the advance notification led to an undesirable practice (of instructing workers to lie to inspectors). So we have to review the advance notification system."

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Workers doing decontamination work in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 7 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Workers doing decontamination work in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 7 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Workers doing decontamination work in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 7 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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