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High school students form union to fight 'black baito' companies

41 Comments

Five Japanese high school students have formed a union to fight companies that take advantage of part-time workers.

The students have coined the term "black baito" ("baito" or "arubaito" which means part-time work). The expression is a derivative of another coined term, "black kigyo," which refers to companies that are lax with regard to labor laws and practically treat employees like slaves.

The five students told a news conference they formed their union to advocate the improvement of conditions of high school part-time workers, Fuji TV reported Friday.

One of the students said: “I work at a convenience from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., but I also am expected to stay and help until 10 p.m. The store said they cannot pay any overtime to part-timers, but said they would compensate me in a different form. However, they haven't given me anything."

According to the students, long hours and unpaid overtime are regularly expected by employers. Even when students requested days off before exams, their requests were turned down, one of the students said.

“There are so many people who are forced to work in illegal conditions," she said. "We would like to help others to improve their work conditions.”

© Japan Today

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41 Comments
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Good on these kids. Let's hope somebody actually has the guts to publish a list of the guilty. "Service Overtime" is just another way of saying "Slave Labor"!

30 ( +30 / -0 )

Admirable to say the least, hope it works out for them.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Wow! These kids plus the hunger strike uni students...are we seeing a trend here? are the young people standing up and taking their country back from these old geezers running it into the ground?

I support them with all my heart and soul.

26 ( +26 / -0 )

ATABOY ... these kids, too!!

I hope they will get many more members and supporters!

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Refuse to work without pay, and do so vocally.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

The handwriting is on the wall now for the old Japanese generations who voted for their own comforts and allowing the LDP to rule selfishly for so long. Japanese youngsters, using the latest communicative technology is awakening ! Professor Clark at Sapporo Agricultural School is known for his famous saying "Boys Be Ambitious". I like to add and say "Boys and Girls, Be Ambitious and Save the Future of Japan".

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Great! It is time the public decided they have had enough. Taking action will bring action.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Brilliant! Glad to see the young aren't going to sit back and let businesses and Government screw them over like previous generations have.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Activism blooming all over! This activist's heart is well warmed.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

And right they are! If you don't fight for yourself then nobody else will. Japanese labor practices and treatment of women in the workplace make me ashamed of my country.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

if a manager ever did that to my high school kid, he would be eating a knuckle sandwhich.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Strange that employers would treat staff so poorly in a country that has literally run out of surplus minimum-wage workers. I don't get this archaic power tripping of smashing young workers when instead they thrive being treated well.

My local convini churns through the young staff and I know it is the the withered old Showa boss. He constantly looks miserable and it might be the constant advertising, interviewing, hiring, training, firing, advertising, training... The staff wanted sign never goes out of the window.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I teach in a college and hear many of these horror stories, especially from izakayas and restaurants. The kids are expected to be at work at least one hour before their shift starts to set tables and then they are expected to stay and clean tables after their shift finishes. It usually totals two to three hours of unpaid work. Sadly though, for these kids and the thousands more in the same situation, if they rock the boat or complain about doing unpaid work they are just fired and replaced. I also know that, many of these kids are working for cash and have no legal options if they are fired without reason. It also means they have no compensation if they are injured at work. The fact that this is kind of exploitation is so wide spread and has been going on for decades shows that the Japanese labor ministry is not worth a pinch of poop! I've worked in Japanese companies that have unions and the Japanese style of a union is just to mediate manager's requests to the staff and not to mediate from the staff to management. They are a joke!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Let's hope somebody actually has the guts to publish a list of the guilty.

The list has been published, the government puts it out every year. You probably frequent one or more of the companies on the list, you may even work for one. Those poor fools who teach English spend full-time hours at work, and receive part-time pay.

Rather than form a union, the best thing to do would be to read the list, and simply avoid going to work for any of the companies shown on it. If a company cannot get workers because of it's pay or labor practices, it will have to change them so it can.

If these high school students were really smart, they would avoid working for anyone else altogether. They should be staring their own businesses and companies, and paying themselves instead of becoming wage slaves to someone else. Japan does not have enough entrepreneurs or new businesses being started, which decreases competition, and increases the numbers of black companies.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Sounds great to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Congratulations!!!!!. This students are really the most important vehicle to ensure an future with justice and solidarity.¿Where can take contact with them?.There is thousands of partial workers looking for them!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Sangetsu03

I dunno if I'd classify people as "fools" just because they aren't being treated as they should be, even if they aren't realizing it. I guess I was a fool (by you) too till I worked for myself.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@sangetsu03

You're right. Those kids should be as smart as you and start their own companies. You're in the colorful unicorn business, right?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

You have job ads at every corner. Need to be stupid or desperate or working first time ever to be treated like slave. If I am lied in particular, i'd resort to means as bad as I experienced. To become someone, you don't just listen to others.

But this is pacificated Japan, hey !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not saying I advocate the use of exploited labor but these combini stores do have massive mortgages (they didn't build themselves) and do work within very tight margins. It can't be easy for them either. One answer might be if they actually sold some magazines instead of tolerating construction worker types just browsing for half an hour and then leaving with buying so much as a pack of smokes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Quit, look a bit harder for a better PT then focus on grades.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's a longshot call but any possibility that this energy in our Japanese youngsters will turn to something similar like "Arab Spring"?

The media should start thinking of what to call this new revolution just over the horizon here in Japan.

May I propose "Yamato Sakura"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Need action, strong one! On the path to get young and fertile opposition. Back offs oyajis!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Sakura Spring" sounds good to me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bravo, guys!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Quit, look a bit harder for a better PT then focus on grades.

Priorities are screwed with this way of thinking, focus on grades, then the PT job. Focusing on the job leaves no time for studying, getting poor grades means lesser chance of getting into a decent college.

Studying should come first, jobs later!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is encouraging news, along with the university students protesting. It looks like we're seeing a younger generation that's getting more active and vocal about issues and won't stand for the status quo.

Hopefully we see more of this. There's still hope for Japan's future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Convenient stores like Sunkus make their workers sell items from their overpriced catalogues twice a year. If they don't sell over a certain amount, they won't be able to get a lousy few yen raise after a year of hard work. However, some workers don't have people to sell to or feel guilty ripping off their friends, so they'll just pay for the items themselves. Essentially paying for their own raise.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@mitoko and Danny: Not Sakurs as if compromising. Yamato Damashii. Japanese lesson 1 Yamato Zakura. When you want to add two nouns together. And Sakura does not insinuate fighting spirit. And it is a nickname for Japanese females A yamato zakura = yamato nadeshiko.

Back to topic, good for them. Hope J Govt and business owners will look ar rgis kind of employees abuse and correct quickly in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does anyone know what convini treats their workers the best? I want to patron that one.

Japan Yesterday, thanks for the info, I won't be stepping into any Sunkus anymore.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They need to make an app for cell-phones that list the good companies and for income they could list jobs for these companies. Could work for all part-timers and not just the kids also. Could also mark the businesses that are good or bad like NHK does to people's homes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sorry but it is a hopeless case. sorry. no point reading on

When you see famous comedians advertising those part-time job magazines that can be found free everywhere, you gotta admit it is hopeless...i mean, the guy is super rich and THE MOST FAMOUS comedian on tv over here ( not the guy with the big teeth; the other guy with a long time partner...i like him still so don't wanna say his name...he doesn't need the money...unless of course he is a slave to the tv industry...now that would be super depressing....

It is called the outsourcing or laundering of employment. It is horrible and will continue for years and years until the youth rebel,,,rebel big time.. but they themselves shop at convenience stores, so they have helped create there own doom...maybe i am now being unfair..

sorry again

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I would love to see much more activism in Japan. This is good news!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For shame! Young people standing up for their rights!!??!?!?!??!?!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is good that you are fighting for your rights, but once you finish your studies you will see many harsh conditions, and do you know that Mr.Abe brings more and more foreign trainees/the modern day slaves and then through them for exploitation in the front of such company owners, just visit some day and watch them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Toshiko-san, Your're right about the grammer however my hopes are that the symbol of the sakura - kindness, the softness and delicateness of human lives are traits that will be reflected by the youth of tomorrow. This is missing from the Japanese leadership today as they are purely remnants of the materialistic Japan that place instant gratification and glory for their own purpose. Yamato signifies something of the inner self identity, pride and determination. Traits that I hope will not go the other way and make our youth self-centered and full of empty pride. I may be wrong with using Yamato as many rural Japanese may feel like outcasts or discriminated due to the bureaucratic government since Meiji.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You're right. Those kids should be as smart as you and start their own companies. You're in the colorful unicorn business, right?

I am in business, and that is sufficient. I work hard, We can send my kids to international school, and we can live in a large apartment in the center of Tokyo. We can eat and dress well, and We can afford to send my children to university overseas.

But when I was young I had some pretty bad jobs, cleaning horse stalls, working in a junkyard, washing pots and pans in a cafeteria. I painted houses, cut grass, and washed cars. These high school students will never do these jobs, or receive the poor pay I did, no matter how "black" the company they work for.

If they are "lucky" they will get a job at one of Japan's more famous companies. There they will do menial work for mediocre pay. They will be promoted by seniority, and earn the average Japanese annual salary of 4.5 million yen per year by the time they reach their 40's. They will be entitled to 10 days of paid vacation per year, but they will never be able to take more than five days consecutively. Their incomes and homes will be too small to raise a family comfortably. Their commutes will be long, their greatest pleasure will be sleep, and eating out at a restaurant once per month.

They will work long hours, and if they are lucky, they will get some overtime pay. Once they are promoted to a senior position, they will lose overtime pay, and will likely work during their vacations. They will never leave their jobs because they won't be able to get another full time job with anyone else.

And all of this is the reason why suicide is the leading cause of death of young and middle aged Japanese people. If these high school students want to be part of this system, good luck to them. Too bad they are never taught that they have a choice.

Rather than trying to change companies to be what they want them to be, they should make the companies as they think they should be made.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@mitoko: Yamato is Japan. It uses two kanjis. Dai is large and Wa is nagoyaka, Harmony. Together Japan. This indicates our ancient ancestors wish of Japan. Military government screwed up. youngsters are finally practicing democracy by themselves.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@toshiko

"Yamato is Japan. It uses two kanjis."

Not necessarily. How about 倭?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

Good for these students! It's ridiculous thinking that a person is going to work for free. If this kind of practice is actually happening these companies are raking in millions of dollars for unpaid overtime to their employees. It means they are making less than the average salary they were contracted to be hired for.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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