Mazda Motor Corp.’s temp-staff employment practices was ruled on as illegal by the Yamaguchi District Court on Wednesday, and the court further decided that the 13 former temp-staff workers that the automaker displaced were indeed regular employees according to prevailing labor laws. The court also ordered Mazda to provide the wages that the 13 workers should have received as regular employees.
This decision, a landmark one that recognizes the rights of temporary workers, is expected to have an effect on numerous similar pending lawsuits. Currently under the temp-staff worker law, companies are required to directly employ workers from temporary staffing agencies as soon as the tenure of the employees reaches three consecutive years. Mazda, under its temp-staff employment practice, chose to employ the temporary workers as “support employees” for three months and then shifted them back to temp-staff status, this after their three consecutive years of service.
The lawsuit was filed by 15 plaintiffs — most of whom worked as temp-staff at Mazda’s Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture for up to five years and seven months before being let go during the outbreak of the global financial crisis 2008. The plaintiffs had filed the lawsuit in April 2009, claiming that Mazda had been working around the 3-year rule, temporarily hiring temp-staff employees as regular employees for about three months under the “support employee” system. Mazda had earlier in the proceedings claimed that the workers had accepted to work as “support employees” out of their own decisions and were never forced into the system. “Mazda had not intended it, and therefore, it does not violate the law,” Mazda’s lawyers said in court. The landmark decision had been a long time coming, because as early as June 2009, the Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectural labor bureaus had pointed out that Mazda needs to correct their “support employee” system.
[ via Kyodo News ]
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