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For laid-off Isuzu workers, a winter of discontent

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FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:31 PM
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For laid-off Isuzu workers, a winter of discontent

The Yomiuri Shimbun

In six years at Isuzu Motors Ltd., the 48-year-old contract employee had never missed a day or called in sick. In March, the automaker had started promoting contract workers to permanent employees at the plant in Ohiramachi, Tochigi Prefecture. "I thought my turn would come before long," he recalled. Instead, when he was called into the conference room last month for a meeting with his assembly line manager and a personnel manager, he got the jaw-dropping news that he was being fired with more than three months still left on his contract. His assembly line manager was a golf buddy, but could not bring himself to look at the man in the eye.

The automaker had the same bad news last month for all of its 820 dispatch staffers and 580 skilled workers hired on contracts. Their contracts will be terminated on Dec. 26, ahead of their expiration dates.


After graduating from high school, the man worked at several car-related jobs, including selling parts. Six years ago, he started working at Isuzu's plant in Kawasaki as a dispatch worker. Two years ago, after being transferred to the Ohiramachi plant, he was employed as a contract worker on renewable contracts ranging from two to six months.

During his time as an Isuzu employee, the man was in charge of selecting and matching parts needed for specific engines. He become so proficient that with just a single glance of an engine schedule, he instantly knew which part was required and his hand would quickly move by long experience straight to the part from the box in front of him. He was looking forward to becoming a permanent employee so he could further hone his skills and pass on his expertise to younger employees.

The man could not accept giving up his ambition easily. After discussing his plight with colleagues who had also been told they were being fired, he decided to fight the company's decision. On Wednesday, he formed a labor union with three colleagues who had agreed to fight with him.

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