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Striking medical workers warn pay reduction jeopardizes patient care

53 Comments
By Rocky Swift

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The government has billions for ridiculous face masks, subsidised travel and hotel stays but can’t find money for frontline health workers? The most important workers in a pandemic get a pay cut? Something not quite right here!

23 ( +23 / -0 )

This isn't the time for the J-gov't or any government for that matter to cut pay on their health workers, they should actually give them more.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

So while the most important people we need in these days have to work much longer hours and get their salaries cut the governor of Tokyo wants to offer money to Kabukicho's hostess bars and nightclub owners aka organized crime, to keep their businesses closed for 10 days. The Japanese leadership never had any grasp on priorities.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

This article would be much better if the author gave us details about the average salary received by the striking medical workers at this hospital and the average amount of their summer bonuses, which vary greatly by industry in Japan.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Reducing salaries is not smart thing to do for people risking their lives and risking social discrimination by their own neighbors and peers. Everyone who spent anytime in Japan knows about social ostracizing that takes place here for the slightest difference. The hospitals are relying on exploiting culture of not wanting to cause problems for others. Adding to problems of healthcare system that may be struggling more than we know because hospitals are not being asked to report on infections by reducing the salaries of people on the front line is going to make the situation much worse.

Have people learned nothing from the Spanish flu, Polio pandemic, or the Great Depression?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

The concept of a "bonus" pay is archaic and inappropriate to modern business and labor practices. It needs to be abandoned and replaced with an hourly, weekly, monthly, or yearly income so that employee knows exactly how much income is earned and sent to the bank account.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

According to what I have heard individuals who work in the medical field could apply for additional one off payment except for the one that everybody got or will get. [10man]

But yeah, the jgov should probably aim their money printers at these institutions first and foremost!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

From my experience the Japanese Gov't i.e. District and Tokyo High Courts do not have any special empathy for Japanese medical workers or their families, in our case my Japanese career midwife spouse and our three adolescent Japanese children. Wife just informed her summer bonus has been reduced 10% and she will not get a winter bonus at all thanks a lot Japan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is absolutely madness, and to strike that's extremely unusual in Japan things must be very grim for these workers. Might be the first crack in the idea a worker is indentured in Japan.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Basic economics tells us that some of them will quit.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The concept of a "bonus" pay is archaic and inappropriate to modern business and labor practices. It needs to be abandoned and replaced with an hourly, weekly, monthly, or yearly income so that employee knows exactly how much income is earned and sent to the bank account.

Bonus is just an incentive or performance pay on top of one's ordinary salary, so I'm not sure what you are on about.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

I want my Doctors and Nurses to be happy.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

At the other end, about 3 million have lost all their work.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If the medical personnel are not happy with their pay or lack of "bonus, " strike. Norms have to go. So, how is the amount of the incentive or performance decided for medical personnel? Less deaths, more positive evaluations by the patients and family members. And, what about the gas station attendants - increased sales, customer loyalty, or drinks by waitresses at night clubs? If you want your doctors and nurses, waitresses, gas attendants, and TEACHERS to be happy, increase the monthly salary.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The people most in need of hazard pay is having their pay cut? Then we wonder why hospitals are rejecting people with corona symptoms. Its because they are not properly being taken care of so they can focus on their jobs.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Perhaps it is their strike putting patients at risk.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I bet if a TON of health care workers just went on strike permanently the gov would listen.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The government has billions for ridiculous face masks, subsidised travel and hotel stays but can’t find money for frontline health workers? The most important workers in a pandemic get a pay cut? Something not quite right here!

The LDP. They're not right. Especially in the head

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Abroad, medical workers are considered as heroes. In Japan, they are discriminated against their profession and on top of that they have their bonus cut. But at least the government has money to make some ugly ill-fitting masks, promise 10man Yen which never arrives and subsidize tourism despite growing infection numbers.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Noriyon73

Exactly, this "bonus" system is in fact a "penalty" system where company can reduce salaries of their employees without having to renegociate the contract. I experienced it the first year I was in Japan, where my promised "3-month" bonus became "2-month" and then "1-month" because I started working on the second day of a month and thus that month was not eligible for the calculation of the bonus.

Fortunately, in my current job I asked to have a fixed salary with no bonuses.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's really not surprising that these workers pay is being cut. Why? Because like other life time workers in Japan, they have nowhere else to go. If there was good mobility of labor, people could negotiate for higher pay or end up going elsewhere for higher pay. But since you are there for life you really have little choice in what pay you get. That's why wages in this country have been stagnant.

When negotiating, the side that can afford to leave the negotiation with little to lose always ends up getting what they want. In this case, the nurses have more to lose when they walk out. Because they can't find a similar position in another hospital. They would have to start from the bottom at the same level of somebody who graduated this year and be given the same pay.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Cutting the pay of doctors, nurses, and health workers on the front lines in a viral war against a highly contagious virus that poses a risk to their own health and their families . Not only health professionals who are fighting this viral war, this also puts a lot of pressure on health professionals who are caring for people with everyday illnesses they would have come across. Cutting the pay of health professionals is a rotten thing to do, this just goes to show how heartless cheap people can.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Wow, so government considers throwing money to the nightclub owners but not to the medical doctors who are fighting this virus? It's funny where their priorities are.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The ¥100,000 per person with zero means assessment was profligate.

And piddling patient charges for minor treatment come at a huge cost - several thousand yen per transaction - to those many hospitals that haven't yet introduced payment machines.

Yes, the charges are a necessary deterrent against hypochondria, but I'll wager that the cost of processing them plays a significant role in hospitals' inability (or reluctance?) to pay bonuses at a time when patients are staying away or being turned away.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jax said -

"Bonus is just an incentive or performance pay on top of one's ordinary salary, so I'm not sure what you are on about."

Well No - actually in most ordinary workers cases the bonus is built in as part of a total annual salary.

If you remove bonuses, in many cases the salary falls far below the standard for that industry and level of work.

It's very difficult - and illegal in most cases - to suddenly reduced the standard wage of a salaried worker.

How then can costs be cut? Simply reduce the "bonus".

The concept of a bonus may have had higher ideals in times afore, but these days it has become a means to for a company / institution / organization to save money.

Wholeheartedly support the medical workers in their quest.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

People work more and they get paid less. Welcome to Japan.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Dr Yuko Yanagisawa described how workers struggled through the spring months, making their own face shields, only to find out that their summer bonuses were being cut.

"We can't endure it any longer," she told reporters, referring to the management's decision.

“We have to prepare for a second wave of the coronavirus without being concerned about tension and anxiety at the worksite.”

Disgraceful.....Abe along with all the other J-politicians shoud donate their bonuses towards the frontline medical staff remmuneration....how people such as the disgraced LDP Kawai couple can collect them while this is happening is beyond belief. What happened to Abe & LDP promise to cut their salaries to show solidarity with people affected by corona shutdowns / layoffs  a few months back? Nothing ....it just became another empty unfulfilled Abe promise. Same as when they promised to cut 80 fatcat Diet seats after 3/11.  LDP lies and BS as always. TIJ.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

To be fair, not every medical worker is on the frontline battling Corona.

Most have no more exposure to the virus than you or I do and, therefore, should be no more immune to a financial hit over this period than the rest of us.

However, those who are attending to the infected, at considerable risk to themselves, should definitely receive full pay with some sort of hazard bonus on top.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Second what browny1 has said. You cannot think of these bonuses from the western perspective, it's a Japanese concept (anyone heard of one day internships? haha). As I've heard from some of my friends, their “salary” is meant to include all these so called bonuses. Simply put, their base salary is laughable, with bonuses it makes a somewhat livable amount of money. Many of them even factor in (and hoping for) some overtime to boost up their earnings.

An anecdote:

I have a friend who works as a nurse in Japan and I have another one who works as a nurse in Canada. It's absolutely crazy to see the difference between the two worlds.

The Canadian friend has a great salary, employee perks and benefits. Medical staff had some pretty cool perks there during the virus wave – free coffee, meals, laundry service, etc.

The Japanese friend has rather tiny salary, heavy workload, no benefits whatsoever during the crisis, some people would look down on her for being a medical staff. There are some ridiculous workplace practices going on which are ridiculed by the Canadian.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Two thirds of hospitals in the country are now operating in financial deficit, according to a paper last month by the Japan Hospital Association. As a result, about a third of the nation's medical institutions are cutting summer bonuses, according to the Japan Federation of Medical Worker's Unions.

and yet Japan's virus numbers are relatively low? If the numbers are accurate with regards to the virus this wouldn't be happening. this is PROOF that the problem is WAAAYYY bigger than the gov is letting on

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Bonus is just an incentive or performance pay on top of one's ordinary salary, so I'm not sure what you are on about.

No it isn't and you should know it if you would be living in Japan. The word "bonus" is one of the many words that Japanese took from English and change the meaning to their preference. In the majority of cases, bonuses are not here performance pay on top of a salary. They are deferred salary. This means that this is the part of the salary that the employee should have received as the base pay but is paid later at once in a "bonus". This means that for the majority of people, a cut in the bonus is effectively a salary cut.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Another situation that the Abe government has completely botched. They should have seen this coming. At the best of times, Japan lacks adequate hospital resources. Have you ever been to a national hospital that was not full to overflowing with patients, or waited less than 90 minutes to see a doctor for 5 minutes?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I feel strange that there is no person in Japan who stands up and says he or she donates money to these medical workers in Japan. Japanese people leave all to their government. We do not know democracy. We are selfish people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The bonus system is designed to get you to work harder. Its money that you would otherwise get anyway, however companies play this game of BONUS for employees who work harder and harder. Much like a slave. You work harder and harder, you get more rice at the end of the day. The bonus money was divided from your salary and companies blackmail you to work harder and longer hours or you will not get more rice at the end of the day. Easy!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some posters seem to misinterpret the story: Those medical workers are NOT fighting the coronavirus in the front line. The story has nothing to do with the issue of overworking or overwhelmed resources. Rather their situation is just like that in other affected businesses such as restaurants or tourism now suffering sudden demand shortfall due to the virus crisis. Thus they would prefer reopening to get back "customer" patients to make money. Check the article line below:

*Hospitals and clinics reducing their staff's bonuses have had their income substantially reduced as fewer people are seeking regular medical services during the epidemic.*

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I do not like the bonus system, however, it allows companies to keep on full-time workers in downturns without firing them. My bonus has varied drastically over the past 10 years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People should also consider that many medical workers are employed at small clinics, many of which saw huge declines in sales over the past several months. Those clinics are not financially capable of paying bonuses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The word "bonus" is one of the many words that Japanese took from English and change the meaning to their preference.

On top of getting a "bonus", many of these striking workers live in "mansions"! Talk about entitlement!

"deferred salary", yes, that's succinct and accurate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

 Those medical workers are NOT fighting the coronavirus in the front line.

Seems to be a dubious claim since according to Fumie Sakamoto, the infection control manager at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, hospitals that take in COVID-19 patients are especially hard hit financially.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The LDP. They're not right. Especially in the head

Spot on one liner Aly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My brother-in-law has a chiropractic clinic but was unable to have clients because of the corona and only just survived by applying for a loan. Starting to accept clients again but in reduced numbers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That's right, protect your rights. We owe these people our lives. They allow us to get some peace of mind during these hard times. I hate what's happening to them, but I love hearing they're speaking out, a rare sight in this country. You've got the population behind you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Know your rights!" as The Clash once sang. In this case, you have the right to be discriminated against, have your pay cut, and become infected with a potentially deadly disease every day in your workplace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hard to get a government bail-out if you don't have the money/scheme set-up for kick-backs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every keeps blaming the government. No one wants to point the finger at the ones who started the whole pandemic and kept quiet about it for weeks: CHINA.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My Japanese wife is a career midwife, gynecology senior nurse in Meguro Tokyo. We have 3 Japanese kids, 11, 15, 19. She has been working like mad throughout this crisis often pulling 20 hour overnight shifts at her hospital where there are some Corona patients on the top floor of her hospital. Her summer bonus has been cut 10% and she will not get any winter bonus at all. This decision is totally insane.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Like I stated on other posts, the government should step in for the lower paid medical workers. Some are very comfortable even without a full bonus. Doctors will 20 years or more experience earn ¥25 million pa. A senior registered nurse with a masters degree earns almost ¥1 million per month.

There were media reports on giving support to all students ¥200,000 and also to healthcare workers but I don't know what became of that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@zichi my J wife is senior RN midwife gynecology nurse 25 years experience with bachelors from Waseda takes home about JPY 500k monthly.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

macv

@zichi my J wife is senior RN midwife gynecology nurse 25 years experience with bachelors from Waseda takes home about JPY 500k monthly.

yes thank you. So does your wife get paid for overtime worked because the nurses I know work long hours. Did she receive that government support the media reported about?

All the healthcare workers who earn the same salary as your wife, or less should be having their bonus topped up by the government to the levels of last year.

The cost of the PM Abe masks were ¥45 billion. Total waste.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is it the government that control's the hospital workers' salaries? I thought they were private entities, so if they aren't getting enough patients, and if the government "help" is not enough, then really, what are administrators supposed to do? As outdated as the bonus system might be, if it does give businesses a way out of an even bigger financial mess, and if it ensures as few people as possible lose their jobs, then...

Anyway, kind of makes you wonder how many people before really needed to go to the hospital. As far as I know, we're not seeing a spike in illnesses (even Covid-related), so people must be managing to treat themselves on their own. Or maybe staying at home has kept people from contracting anything other than cabin fever.

Still, only the tip of the iceberg. Businesses cannot just hang on forever. This will be a culling of the herd of businesses. I estimate in about six months, look out below.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like I stated on other posts, the government should step in for the lower paid medical workers. Some are very comfortable even without a full bonus. Doctors will 20 years or more experience earn ¥25 million pa. A senior registered nurse with a masters degree earns almost ¥1 million per month.

Sorry, doctors don't earn that much in Japan, that is only the case of the doctor have his/her own practice.

Doctors who work in big hospitals (i.e. the ones treating the covid patients), such as university hospitals, only get about 7-8M salaries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi wifey just answered - re. rumored Gov't support nope - hasn't received any special government assistance money but nothing has been decided yet. re overtime - for normal daytime weekday or weekend she gets overtime after working 7 hours calculated in increments of 15 minutes, didn't say how much. when she works overnight (yakin) 16 hours 45 mins, overtime kicks in at higher rate than daytime rate, however they deduct x amount for rest time (total 3 hours) so it's a bit complex. I'm just grateful she is working and hasn't thrown me out after 20 years but that could change anytime and you might see me playing harmonica outside meguro station.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Saw this news last week on one of the TV talk shows where they had information that up to 400 nursing staff in the Tokyo area are considering quitting because of this bonus cut, and no thanks. The knock-on will be felt as the second wave hits, with hospitals lacking the staff to deal with it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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