TOKYO DEC 26 JPS -- In the lawsuit filed by workers in the Tokyo Electric Power Company on discrimination by the company on wages and promotion because they are members or supporters of the Japanese Communist Party, the company on December 25 agreed to pay more than 2 billion yen in compensation to 165 employees, as proposed by the Tokyo High Court, after a 19-year legal struggle.
The agreement includes: 1) fair treatment on wages and promotion to administrative positions, and 2) company make payments as settlement money to the plaintiffs.
In 1976, 136 employees filed lawsuits in district courts in Tokyo and five prefectures. In 1991, another 29 employees took their case to court. In August 1993, the Maebashi District Court, Gunma Prefecture, ruled that the company's policy of discriminating against employees who are members of the JCP violated the Constitution, which provides for freedom of thought and conscience, and the Labor Standards Law, which prohibits discriminatory treatment of workers based on their thought and belief. The district courts in Kofu, Nagano, Chiba and Yokohama also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
During hearings in the Kofu District Court, the company testified that Shiro Komiyama, a plaintiff, "was working hard," but "was not evaluated no matter how hard he worked, because he was after all a Communist." The company argued that the plaintiffs had attempted to destroy the company, by distributing the Japanese Communist Party's program and congress resolutions.
The plaintiffs effectively refuted the company, by presenting their position that as JCP members they represented the interests of the workers at all times in any place and proposed to change the role of big business in society to one of serving the interest of the people.
After the hearings the Kofu District Court clearly ruled that the company's discriminatory treatment of workers on wages because they were Japanese Communist Party members was against legal principle.
On the out-of-court settlement in the lawsuit against the ideological discrimination by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. on December 25, a joint statement was published by the plaintiffs group against human rights violations and wage discrimination in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the central liaison council to support the lawsuit against discrimination in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., and the lawyers group in the lawsuit against ideological discrimination by the Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The statement says: "Our lawsuit was a struggle to realize in the workplace principles of equality under the law and freedom of thought and conscience, which are guaranteed by Japan's Constitution. 165 plaintiffs, under the slogan 'Nothing is more valuable than freedom and democracy,' have over 19 years put into practice the following constitutional provision: 'The freedoms and rights guaranteed to the people by this Constitution shall be maintained by the constant endeavor of the people.'"
"The settlement which we have reached today shows that a correct struggle, no matter how difficult it may be, will eventually win. We are convinced that it will contribute to advance the struggle of workers against ideological discrimination in big companies throughout the country and to making an advance in the democratic labor movement, and to the struggle for defending Japan's democracy."
After the settlement was announced, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the ideological discrimination by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and their families held a meeting in Tokyo to report on their victory to their supporters on the lawsuit.
Yachiyo Motoki, one of the plaintiffs, said that initially she wasn't sure if she could win. "But our efforts have paid off." Her husband said, "We owe our victory to the support we got throughout the country."
Hideo Nihei, leader of the plaintiffs group, attended the meeting with his family members. His wife Noriko Nihei said, "The Tokyo Electric Power Co. said they didn't promote us because we lacked in ability, had no aspirations and were not cooperative. And today they admitted they were wrong." Ayumi, their 19-year-old daughter, said, "I'm proud of my parents. They did what they believed to be right, knowing it would put them in a disadvantageous position." (end item)
[c] 1995, Japan Press Service (JPS)
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