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Train driver sues JR West for ¥56 deducted pay over one-minute delay

24 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Japanese trains are widely praised for their punctuality, but this precise, to-the-minute timekeeping is now at the center of a dispute between a train driver and West Japan Railway Co (JR West).

According to reports, the male driver, who works for the Okayama branch of JR West, is seeking payment of 56 yen in unpaid wages after a mishap that occurred during his shift on June 18 last year.

The driver says he was scheduled to deadhead an empty train at the Okayama Station depot that morning, and was waiting at one of the station platforms for the train to arrive. When the train arrived, he realized he was waiting at the wrong platform, and by the time he met the driver at the correct platform, the start of the transfer between drivers was delayed by two minutes, leading to a one-minute delay in departure and a one-minute delay in warehousing the train at the depot.

As a result, JR West deducted 85 yen from the driver’s July pay, saying there was no actual labor performed during the two minutes when the transfer was delayed. However, after the driver brought the matter to the Okayama Labor Standards Inspection Office, JR West eventually reduced the delay time to one minute, upon advice from the Labor Bureau.

Still believing this was unreasonable, due to the fact that the error caused no damage to the company and no disruption to train timetables as the train was empty, the driver decided to take the matter to the Okayama District Court in March.

The driver is now seeking compensation of 43 yen, which was deducted for the one-minute delay, 13 yen in overtime created by the delay, and 2.2 million yen for mental anguish.

While the driver believes his pay shouldn’t be docked, as the incident occurred during his work shift, the company says it applied the “no work, no pay principle” as the reason for the wage cut, in the same way they would in cases of late arrival to work or absenteeism.

The driver criticized the company for “using wage cuts as ‘sanctions’ for human error”, saying a small mistake in business shouldn’t be classified as a breach of contract.

Commenters in Japan who heard the news online tended to agree, saying:

“If the company is right, then why were they advised to rescind on the initial two minutes by the Labor Bureau?”

“Everyone makes mistakes — wage cuts shouldn’t be made unless it’s a big deal. If this becomes normal, wage cuts due to mistakes will spread to other industries as well.”

“This lack of leeway is characteristic of Japan. It’s not about being highly productive.”

“If you’re a crew member, it’s often said that if you cause a delay of one minute, you’ll be treated as if you’ve caused an accident.”

“So you can reduce someone’s salary by one minute, but you can’t pay overtime in one-minute increments as well?”

“I would go crazy if I was in charge of payroll, having to deduct minutes from people’s salaries for every mistake they make.”

Despite the public siding with the employee during the ongoing case, Japan Rail’s stellar record of punctuality and safety presents a strong argument for enforcing times to the exact minute. Plus, human error can result in severe consequences when you’re part of a team that’s responsible for the safety and welfare of millions of passengers every day.

However, with increasing safety concerns on board Japanese trains, rail staff are now under more strain than ever, and employers may need to rethink the way they provide support to their employees. But, as we know, a great employer in Japan isn’t always easy to find.

Sources: Yomiuri via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- JR East to re-educate employees after frequent overruns on JR Keiyo Line

-- Japanese train company issues official apology for “inexcusable” 25-second early departure

-- Why does it take so long for Japanese trains to start running again after an accident?

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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Company bullying employees is the norm in Japan. Good for him for suying, but unfortunatelly., knowing Japanese culture and habits, JR will take revenge on him on the long run.

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Good on him. He just screwed his career though.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

If all companies followed the ‘No work, no pay’ principle, the majority of oyaji salarymen wouldn’t get paid

18 ( +22 / -4 )

“So you can reduce someone’s salary by one minute, but you can’t pay overtime in one-minute increments as well?”

This. It should be a two way street if that's how they're going to play.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

He should start opening his Ramen shop. Better to have family business than working under stranger's company.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Japanese workers actually standing up for their rights is rare and nice to see but. . .

he was waiting at the wrong platform,

Guy's trying to sue JR for 2.2 million yen for making himself late. If this works I may have a retirement plan.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This kind of nitpicking management pressure is what led to the Amagasaki train disaster. JR West hasn't really learned their lesson.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

“So you can reduce someone’s salary by one minute, but you can’t pay overtime in one-minute increments as well?”

This.

The best comeback is, “You’re going to deduct my pay for being one minute late?

OK.

Remember this moment when I work ANY minutes of unpaid overtime.”

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The driver should have been more attentive. Also, if you can't show up on time or early as a matter of fact, don't work for JR.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

I am so not surprised. Try that in West Philly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Train driver sues JR West over one-minute delay

This head line is wrong.

If you "sue someone over something" the object of the phrase must be the thing you are suing them for.

The worker is suing the company over having his pay docked (after he caused a delay himself).

He is not "suing the company over the delay" which implies he was the party who suffered from a delay caused by someone else.

And to address the article itself; well, this kind of treatment by JR West is ridiculous. It is not about the small sums of money involved. It is about the utter contempt the company is showing for its workers as human beings. Is the manager who came up with this scheme engaged in productive activity ever single minute of his working hours? Do they dock the pay of all the smokers in their head office every time they head out for a drag (actually, I might agree with doing that...)

It's also sad to see commenters agreeing with this kind of over-controlling bullying behavior, which is know to affect worker health and leads to poor decision making.

Given that this is the exact same corporate environment that once leads over 100 people to lose their lives in a crash caused by a driver scared of disciplinary action and trying to make up a lost minute, it is surprising that the company is still behaving in this way.

It would seem that the transport or labor authorities are not interested in leaning on the company to persuade them to stop this. Perhaps they should.

A further point is that a company known publicly to behave in this way will struggle to recruit high quality personnel. Who would voluntarily join an organization that acts in this way? So in the long run, the company acts to its own detriment .

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I wonder how this delay has affected other trains and schedule. It seems it did not.

So I believe there is more behind the story. Some companies can be picky but, It is not a practice and have never heard of any wage wage reduction for a one or two minutes delay.

None of the Japanese companies I have been working with have been strict about the schedule, but I do not work in the service or transport industry.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

That’s so extremely sick, I can’t find words… The efforts , time and costs for all that are so much higher for all involved and of course finally the taxpayers, than what it’s about… Just having given him a hundred yen coin without comment and wasting time would have been a normal and pragmatic solution. But this way…just only unbelievable crazy.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Good on you train guy!! Deducting ¥85 from any pay is absolutely ridiculous!! I'll bet they don't recompense for 2 mins OVER that a person may work...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No work, no pay. Does this include politicians?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This seems to be nothing new, the industry is well known for being among the most exploitative. It gets away with it by having some degree of prestige attached to it, but that shouldn't be enough.

Train workers should organize and strike, at the very least. You'd see some change REAL fast if the Japanese train network came to a screeching halt and the people were inconvenience by it.

This particular case is extra ridiculous as he was driving a train to be warehoused, nobody was even riding it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I see that wages theft exists in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

JR West must be bad at Math as the cost of deducting his wage was way more than the benefit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There a lot of companies with a punitive work culture. One company I know robs Peter to pay Paul - docked workers’ wages are used to pay bonuses.

Frankly speaking, if I were this employee I would bear this incident in mind when JR West wanted a favor from me; meanwhile I’d be looking for a new employer who values my contribution to the company.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oh my lord! knocking a few yen off someones wages over such a trivial thing, jeees how petty minded is that? your pay starts from the time you clock on untill the time you clock off, you cant just knock off money because of a tiny mistake, it could go the other way, train drivers stop short of the platform at 8.00 o'clock and walk to the platform leaving passangers stranded, well thats my shift done, he says. presuming hes not going to get paid for the 1 or 2 minutes that his shifts run over, remember, end of shift, no pay, it can work both ways! is he writing his demise from the co? i think so, hes a rebble and a trouble maker, (possibly in the co minds) I hope he gets enough money to retire on. will it go throught the courts? yes, but will the claim be upheld? no, is it in the companies intrest for him to be paid out as it might open a flood gate of claims.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“So you can reduce someone’s salary by one minute, but you can’t pay overtime in one-minute increments as well?”

Agreed. When I worked for a car company here, I once put in many hours of overtime that went unpaid. It wasn't because I was asked to, I just wanted to do a good job for the company. Then one morning, I turned up 3 minutes late because of a traffic accident blocking the road on the route to the company, and I was chastised for being late, in front of everyone, and had ¥10,000 deducted from my next salary. I quit the month after.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Transportation companies all over the world play games with employee and even contractor pay in ways not unlike this. Having worked in the industry for better than 15 years I could fill a couple of paragraphs with examples. Most people are too afraid to challenge these companies. The have families and debt and cannot afford to lose a job over some pay they were cheated out of. Employers know this and prey on their employees relative financial weakness. Even really big companies like FedEx Ground abuse their employees pay. I have seen it first hand working in management at one of their larger terminals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rules are rules.

JR is not following the rules so they should be made to pay damages.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As this argument rumbles no, I am sure that JR will have looked into this with there league team and had several meetings to discus where do we go with this claim and how it could have reprocusions etc, the cost of this is far more than they originally stopped, hahaha, we have a saying in the UK, "penny wise pound foolish"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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