Japan Today



Getting revenge on the boss


“Honestly, I wanted to smash everything in the place.”

Noriko is thinking of her own plight, but she speaks for multitudes of disgruntled workers. Revenge! What employee hasn’t longed for it at one time or another? In days gone by, it rarely went beyond impotent rage. Lately, reports Spa! (Sept 23), the rage is getting potent. Noriko’s nearly toppled the welfare facility she works for, and in the workaday world, she’s got plenty of company.

She’s 32, a part-time dietician who guides mentally disabled patients in making “bento” packaged meals for sale to other institutions. “This is the work I’d wanted to do since my student days, and for the first year or two I was very happy,” she tells Spa!

That changed when management decided to expand the bento-making operation and start selling to ordinary companies. The kitchen was thrown into chaos. The patients couldn’t cope, and Noriko found herself on the go from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.-- for 170,000 yen a month. Her overtime was classed as “voluntary,” therefore unpaid.

When, after five years, she collapsed from depression, her boss added insult to injury by berating her for being “weak” -- meaning ineligible for paid sick leave. That was the last straw. Noriko would teach the whole institution a lesson it would never forget.

Her first tentative step was a call to the Labor Standards Bureau: “I work for a concern that doesn’t pay overtime, and pressure from my boss put me in hospital. What should I do?” The reply suggested lengthy procedures to go through, which Noriko hadn’t the patience for. But she got lucky. A patient cut her hand with a knife while working in the kitchen, and management instructed the staff to keep quiet about it. Noriko promptly threatened to report the cover-up to the bureau.

“Suddenly,” she says,” the attitude changed.” A 100,000-yen-a-month sick leave package was granted without further ado.

But Noriko was not finished. Hearing from a colleague while she was recuperating that her leave hadn’t been reported to government welfare monitors, she phoned City Hall and said, “I hear that facility has failed to report that its dietician is on leave.” A surprise inspection followed, which, when word got out, badly shook the facility’s reputation.

“Serves them right,” is Noriko’s verdict.

A revised version of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law went into effect in April 2007 without settling the vexed question of sexual harassment, which remains rampant -- partly because it is ill-defined. Anyway, Ryoko, a 34-year-old advertising company employee, didn’t really consider herself sexually harassed. But all claims are fair in love, war and the pursuit of revenge.

“We were two women in my section,” Ryoko tells Spa! “The other was young and very pretty. Our boss showed her every favoritism. Frankly, it got to me.”

She seethed in silence, until one day the boss said to her, “You seem to be gaining weight.”

“I saw red,” Ryoko says. At the next section meeting, she publicly accused the boss of sexual harassment, artfully maneuvering the younger woman into admitting, somewhat grudgingly, that the boss was in the habit of making suggestive remarks. Soon the story was all over the office. The boss was demoted.

“To be honest,” she admits, “what he said to me wasn’t sexual harassment. But he was justly punished for showing her such favoritism.”

Sexual harassment is one thing, “power harassment” is another. Kunio considers himself a victim of the latter. He’s 30 years old and works for a chain retailer. Spa! describes his store manager -- ex-manager, rather -- as “sadistic.”

“What were you doing yesterday?” he invariably barked on the morning following Kunio’s day off.

“I was off yesterday.”

“That’s not what I asked you! What were you doing? We were swamped here, and you were off!”

The astonishing result of this browbeating is that Kunio gave up taking days off. He worked 65 days straight, finally collapsing and waking up in hospital.

To the manager, it looked like malingering. “What’s a weakling like him doing on my hands?” he grumbled, according to a colleague who visited Kunio in hospital.

“Never before,” says Kunio, “had I hated anyone so badly I wanted to kill.”

A lawyer helped him get the sick leave pay the manager had withheld. His follow-up complaints resulted in the manager being demoted.

It wasn’t enough. “I went to the guy’s house,” he gloats to Spa! “and flattened his car tires for him.” A symbolic murder, if not a real one.

© Japan Today

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“We were two women in my section,” Ryoko tells Spa! “The other was young and very pretty. Our boss showed her every favoritism. Frankly, it got to me.”

Gee, a young and very pretty worker was shown favoritism over a less attractive worker. Wow, this must be the first time that such a thing has ever happened in the world of employment, anywhere in the world.

Not denying sexual harrasment and labor law enforcement can be a joke at times in Japan, but sometimes you have to take things with a grain of salt.

But nice "revenge" on her employer story.

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Workers in Japan can blame themeselves as much as their bosses and companies. Collectively workers here have no back bone. They don't have the interest to use their political power to improve labor standards. They don't form useful unions but stick to pointless organizations that do very little for them. They put up with everything and don't band together in walk outs and strikes.

The same is true of many working communities around the world. But Japan has it pretty bad and does nothing to improve the situation. Workers must take responsibility and start to fight back. Or remain sheep and suffer the consequences.

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Wow, this must be the first time that such a thing has ever happened in the world of employment, anywhere in the world.

aaah, it's time for that again is it? I'll pass

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Revenge is never good... you should report people not flatten their tires. If you put up with 18 hour days when you're lazy not to find a new job or stupid not to quit. Sure you love your job but being taken advantage of and exploited in illegal work practices is plain stupid.

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hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned...

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I say good on Noriko and Kunio. Risking one's health for a stupid job is ridiculous. Ryoko sounds like a vindictive fat chick who was jealous because someone else was getting attention and she wasn't. Because of that her boss got demoted. The boss should flatten her tires.

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Ryoko sounds like a vindictive fat chick who was jealous because someone else was getting attention and she wasn't.

And do you honestly think the cute, younger chick enjoyed the attention? I highly doubt it. Japan seriously needs to wake up when it comes to worker's rights. Unpaid overtime, sexual harassment... The thing is, these people who complain about all of this will then turn around and do exactly the same stuff to the guys below them. The Kohai/sempai thing sucks here.

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Why stop at peeing. Solids are even better.

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Down with management!!

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I would suggest putting salt into his gas tank. Thant would kill the whole engine. Ofc the best way is to be the better person and walk away. I once was having scolded by my boss for something I didnt deserve. I dont enjoy my work and the words shes saying are plain cruel. So I just told her I quit and immedietly disscuss my contract and how long I need to work till I can leave. I was so plain and determine that she told me to think it over again and admitted that she was a bit hard on me. I said I will continue only if she would discuss things without being accusitive and she said she will.

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bravo Noriko, Ryoko & K nio! Those arse bosses shld be tot a lesson regardless of yr way of doing things....My colleage who wants my job is sleeping w my boss.....so I got rid of all my sales ...and 2 yrs later my boss arse is on fire....& he's asking for my help to save his arse...and g what?...I will not help him....that's another way to teach power-harassment, s. harassment etc bosses...lawyers & labor laws only cld help to a certain limit....the rest is for indi to think what's best for her/him.....

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Miss World Travel - sugar is better and naphthalene is best. BTW what does accusitive mean? Is it something between accusative and acquisitive?

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To tell the truth, I wouldn't class any of these as revenge stories - every dutiful citizen should act in the same way when facing injustice at work. The only reason bad bosses exist is because nobody uses the law to stop them. What boggles my mind is that people work so long under such intolerable conditions. Why don't they quit? Where's the organisation and workers' unity?

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I partly agree with Notginger..yes, this story is not about revenge, it's about 3 human beings fighting for their rights after facing injustice at work...on you wondering why people don't quit...it's because most of those Japanese companies pay good salaries, staff benefits & stuff...and Labour Union protects the employees from being terminated....

And being a woman those two ladies can't quit because no other Japanese companies would pay them the same, and allow them to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle of esthetic salons, holidays abroad and branded good shopping....

..and mind you, that you have to be below 30 years old to join a Japanese company.....even then a woman is already called oba-san ..at age 30...I'm furious....lol

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All this chemical in the gastank nonsense. Gastank lids are locked, are they not?

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Irrational behaviour on both sides here. Neither deserve the support given above.

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