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To our working-class brothers and sisters across the world Invitation to the International Joint Action in November in Tokyo and Seoul

By Doro-Chiba/KCTU - Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, October 23, 2016

Neoliberalism has led to a rapid increase in irregular workers and indirect employment all over the world, as well as the strengthening of monopoly, the deepening of wealth polarization, more and more privatization, and the oppression of the labor union movement.

Moreover, the intensified competition among capitalist powers has brought about the impending crisis of conflict and war, especially in Northeast Asia.

Workers of the world! We, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions Seoul Regional Council and three unions in Japan (Doro-Chiba, Kan-Nama and Minato-Godo), have decided to organize a Workers’ International Solidarity Action in November against the merciless capitalists’ oppression of the labor movement and the growing crisis of imperialist war in Northeast Asia and the Middle East.

Neoliberalism, which is controlled by the “1%” monopoly capitalists, totally deprives workers of their freedom. While the number of irregular workers and indirectly employed workers increases, public services (transportation, education, medical care, municipality, etc.) are shrinking, being privatized, and transformed into mere tools for profiteering.

Above all, the capitalists’ greed has forced the world into economic depression and the collapse of the world economy, and is drawing the world into the disaster of impending imperialist war (a world war and nuclear war).

In face of the first crisis ever to seriously threaten the survival of mankind, the international solidarity of workers is the only way to defend the world.

We workers of the world must stand together in a united struggle under the banner of international solidarity.

In 1995, South Korean workers established the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to unite workers and stand in the vanguard of their struggles, overcoming the harsh repression of state power and capital that had existed on labor movements for a long period of time. Since then, KCTU has been relentlessly fighting and continuously moving forward.

The workers of KCTU keep fighting without fear even to die in their struggle. They go on strikes regardless of the risks of being fired or arrested. In fact, our comrade Han Sang-gyun, President of KCTU, recently received an unprecedented sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and now strives behind bars. Despite such a brutal rule of the present regime that speaks only for big capital and the far right wing, the workers never waver in their efforts and continue fighting on militantly.

This coming September, workers in South Korea are preparing to wage another robust general strike led by the public sector union. Also, 200,000 workers from all over the country will gather together in a massive protest at the People’s All-out Rally in Seoul. There the working class people will vigorously launch the decisive battle to fight back against the oppressive rule of the government and capitalism. This will pave the way for further general strikes and then link up with the struggle of the presidential election in 2017. All these militant struggles will create a new turning point toward the fundamental transformation of South Korean society.

Doro-Chiba has been carrying on the struggle against the division and privatization of Japan National Railway. It was the greatest attack on the labor movement in the Japanese postwar period. But Doro-Chiba’s 30-year consistent struggle has eventually succeeded in forcing even the reactionary Supreme Court to admit that the JR and the state power itself had committed unfair labor practices. Doro-Chiba thus achieved a historic breakthrough and started a fresh fight against JR East Company for the withdrawal and reinstatement of fired 1,047 railway workers.

The Shinzo Abe government shamelessly concealed the risk of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident, and is forcing the evacuees to move back into their hometowns where radiation levels remain dangerously high. In order to proceed with the so-called “Reconstruction of Fukushima,” Abe is desperately trying to reopen the railway line in Fukushima. Doro-Mito, a fraternal union of Doro-Chiba, has been at the forefront of the struggle to fight against the operation of contaminated trains and radiation-exposed work through repeated strikes.

In 2010, Kan-Nama waged a general strike in the ready-made mixed concrete industry for 139 days, which violently shook the monopoly in the construction industry and the domination of big cement manufacturers. The workers of Kan-Nama made a great effort to establish a labor union in every workplace and are today still striving hard to organize hundreds of thousands of workers.

Minato-Godo organizes the workers of small- and medium-sized enterprises in its community. Minato-Godo has been working hard to take back workers’ right to organize, and has succeeded in creating a strongly fortified community that can fight together against common enemies.

Now the Abe administration has launched a full-scale attack on workers. Intent on tearing up the pacifist clause of the Constitution and rushing head-on into war, Abe moves forward with further revising labor laws that force all workers into a state of unstable employment in the name of “Working-Style Reform.” We are determined to stand up against the ruthless attacks of the Abe government. We hold a National Workers’ Rally on November 6th and join our forces in an all-out effort to fight back.

The danger of nuclear war in Northeast Asia is imminent. The international solidarity between Korean and Japanese workers forged since the November Rally in 2003 is now more important than ever before. We believe it is vital to expand this into a worldwide workers’ solidarity movement. Therefore, we will link the Workers Rally in Tokyo on November 6th with the Workers’ Rally/People’s All-out Rally in Seoul on November 12th and November 13th, and ask you all to join these rallies in both countries. The capitalist assault on the working class transcends borders and has common features all around the world. Our enemy is one and the same. The working class of the world must be united to overcome every attempt to divide us. Join us in Japan and South Korea in a union of workers across races, nationalities, and borders! Let us launch a movement for fundamentally transforming society that has plunged into economic depression, large-scale unemployment, poverty, and war!

Atomic Depths: An assessment of freshwater and marine sediment contamination: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster—Five years later

By Hisayo Takada, Shaun Burnie, Kendra Ulrich, and Jan Vande Putte - Greenpeace, July 2016

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which began on 11 March 2011, released large amounts of radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean. In fact, as calculated by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), “this is the largest one-off injection of artificial radionuclides into the marine environment ever observed.”

This report is based on a review of the extensive scientific research that has been conducted since 2011 on radiocesium in seabed sediments in the Pacific Ocean along the Fukushima coast and in river systems and lakes. It also includes the results of Greenpeace radiation surveys conducted in the coastal waters, estuaries, and rivers of Fukushima prefecture in early 2016, as well as in Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture.

Read the report (PDF).

Stranded Assets and Thermal Coal in Japan: An analysis of environment-related risk exposure

By Ben Caldecott, Gerard Dericks, Daniel J. Tulloch, Lucas Kruitwagen, and Irem Kok - Oxford, May 2016

Deploying a ‘bottom up’ asset-level methodology, we analysed the exposure of all of Japan’s current and planned coal-fired power stations to environment-related risk. Planned coal capacity greatly exceeds that required for replacement - by 191%. This may result in overcapacity and combined with competition from other forms of generation capacity with lower marginal costs (e.g. nuclear and renewables), lead to significant asset stranding of coal generation assets. Stranded coal assets in Japan would affect utility returns for investors; impair the ability of utilities to service outstanding debt obligations; and create stranded assets that have to be absorbed by taxpayers and ratepayers.

Read the report (PDF).

Doro-Chiba Declaration of Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima Action On March 11th, 2016

By H Yamamoto - Doro-Chiba, April 16, 2016

The Abe administration is rushing to start war and restart the nuclear power plants. Down with the Abe administration, gathering the Fukushima people’s widespread anger together with the labor unions waging strikes at the forefront of the fight!

The Abe government has decided to lift the evacuation orders in all municipalities in Fukushima that are still exposed to radiation doses of up to 20 mSv/year. This means the evacuees in and outside Fukushima Prefecture are forced to go back into these heavily contaminated areas by March 2017 except for “the difficult-to-return-to areas.”

In line with this, the “compensation for mental suffering” by Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO) for more than 100,000 evacuees and the government-subsidized apartments for “voluntary evacuees” will be cut off with the intention of forcing these evacuees to return home. This is essentially economic coercion.

The big construction companies make easy money from the wasteful and ineffective “cleanup” operation of the contaminated areas. Contaminated waste is packed into thousands of black bags that have nowhere to go. Radioactive contaminated water increases 500 tons per day as it is used to cool the hundreds of tons of molten fuel, and it will finally be poured into the sea. Even though 167 children in Fukushima have developed thyroid cancer, both the central and prefectural governments repeatedly say that this “has nothing to do with the effects of radiation.” No one can believe such a blatant lie.

The government and TEPCO have never assumed responsibility for the accident, and have been driving wedges against the angry people of Fukushima. Moreover, the government is moving to promote nuclear power plants again as if nothing had happened. We fiercely condemn this shameless covering up of the apparent facts, and are determined to fight resolutely against the restarting of nuclear power plants and export of nuclear power plants.

March 11th marked a starting point for each of us. “Something is wrong with this society”—everyone shared this same feeling and stood up to challenge the political and social situation. It has been five years since that day. Now an aggressive war on the Korean Peninsula is imminent. Furthermore, World War III is actually on the near horizon. There are numerous people who earnestly seek a fundamental change of the society. In South Korea, workers are waging general strikes repeatedly to protest against the drive to war and rampant onslaught of temporary labor.

Let us join together to fight against neoliberalism through international solidarity of the working class! Wage strikes to stop war! Masses of workers have fallen into non-regular jobs and are suffering from extreme poverty. The working class has the power to lead the struggle to change this society.

We have the power to change the history!

By the Organizing Committee of March 11 Anti-NPP Fukushima Action in 2016 - January 1, 2016

Doro-Chiba Union calls for endorsement of and participation in Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima Action on March 11, 2016:

We have the power to change the history! This is the slogan of the Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima Action on March 11, 2016.

Against the legislation to exercise the right to collective self-defense more than 100 thousand of people filled the square in front of the Diet day after day. Since this mass uprising last autumn a rising tide of the struggle by millions workers, students and other people, has broadened deeply all over the country and around the world.

The struggle of the fifth anniversary of the Earthquake and nuclear reactor meltdowns on March 11th in Fukushima will be fought headed by the unions which have been waging strikes, with Fukushima people’s widespread anger, calling “down with Abe administration which promotes war bills and wages restarting of nuclear power plants”.

Please endorse and participate in this action from all over the country and around the world.

Fukushima workers sue Tepco over unpaid wages, reliance on contractors

By Kevin Krolicki - Reuters, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

IWAKI Japan (Reuters) - A group of Fukushima workers on Wednesday sued Tokyo Electric for unpaid wages in a potentially precedent-setting legal challenge to the utility and its reliance on contractors to shut down a nuclear plant destroyed by the industry's worst accident since Chernobyl.

The lawsuit follows a court ruling last week that the utility known as Tepco must pay compensation over the suicide of a woman who was forced from her home following the March 2011 tsunami and subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant north of Tokyo.

The spate of legal activity is the latest blow for Tepco, which has been effectively nationalized and expects to spend more than $48 billion in compensation alone for the disaster that forced the evacuation of some 160,000 residents.

The lawsuit, filed by two current and two former Fukushima workers who wore masks to court to conceal their identities, claims that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc and its contractors failed to ensure workers are paid promised hazard allowances, a court filing showed.

"A year ago, Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe told the world that Fukushima was under control. But that's not the case," Tsuguo Hirota, the lawyer coordinating the lawsuit, said in an interview.

"Workers are not getting promised hazard pay and skilled workers are leaving. It's becoming a place for amateurs only, and that has to worry anyone who lives near the plant."

The workers say Tokyo Electric allowed subcontractors to skim funds allocated for wages to bolster their own profits on the decommissioning project at the expense of workers.

The lawsuit seeks the equivalent of almost $600,000 in unpaid wages from Tokyo Electric and related contractors. It marks the first time that the utility has been sued for the labor practices of the construction companies it employs.

The lawsuit also asks that the 6,000 workers at the nuclear clean-up project either be made effectively government employees, be put on the Tepco payroll directly or otherwise be fairly paid.

Hirota said he expects two additional workers will join the action immediately and that more could follow. Japanese law allows for additional plaintiffs with related claims to join an existing lawsuit.

Tokyo Electric said it had not yet received a copy of the compliant and would respond after seeing the details.

Read the entire article here.

Doro-Mito Strikes Against Work Exposed to Radiation-Stop Reopening of Rail Truck to Tatsuta Station! Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Three Years On

By Yosuke Oda, Secretary General of National Conference for Worldwide Immediate Abolishment of All Nuclear Power Plants (NAZEN) - June 19, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Doro-Mito, a sister union of Doro-Chiba, have been repeatedly waging strikes against re-opening of rail truck near Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This struggle of rail workers in their own workplace against radiation-exposed work immensely shook Iwaki City where many of “Fukushima Liquidators” (nuclear plant workers to settle the catastrophe) live. We sincerely ask you, friends all over the world, to support this struggle and urge you to fight with us.

In concert with the Abe administration, which has been exerting enormous pressure on the evacuees to return to their contaminated hometown, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) began test operation for the restoration of the disrupted railway line on Saturday May 10 on the rail truck between Hirono Station and Tatsuta Station, 16 kilometer (10 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. On Monday June 1, it extended “commercial” service to the Tatsuta Station. Now, trains are running inside the 20 Kilometer Radius—“the Evacuation Zone.”

For the safety of workers and passengers, Doro-Mito' maintenance and inspection workers waged a strike on May 10 and the drivers struck on May 30 and 31. On May 31, Doro-Mito and its supporters from around the country held a rally and marched in Iwaki City with several hundred participants.

Can Trade Unions Become Environmental Innovators?

By Nora Räthzel, David Uzzell, and Dave Elliott - Soundings, December 2010

Learning from the Lucas Aerospace Workers

The attempt by workers at Lucas Aerospace in the 1970s to develop a plan to convert production in their company from weapons to socially useful goods has recently been invoked in debates on creating low-carbon societies.[1] As Hilary Wainwright and Andy Bowman have argued, a renewed Green New Deal that involved a similar level of painstaking attention to grass-roots participation ‘would be a worthy successor indeed’.[2] We agree with this view, and we would like to make the additional argument that the Lucas example is particularly helpful for international trade union debates on climate change.

The Lucas workers were way ahead of their time in recognising the need for sustainable development - even if such a concept did not exist at that time. But their project also demanded a radical revision of the ways in which society determined its priorities. In today’s terms, their argument was for a ‘Just Transition’. In other words, in adapting production for different needs, it was important to make sure that any new strategies would take workers’ interests into account. And it is this notion that is important in trade union debates today.[3]

Trade unions are not commonly regarded as being on the frontline of the climate change battle. Many people (including not a few trade unionists) see unions as being on the side of climate sceptics, or as being a constituency for whom other concerns are more important. But many national and international unions are currently seeking to develop policies through which their industries can help to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change; and unions do have a long history of struggling for environmental issues - even if this history is not given so much attention today. For example, in the early years of industrialisation trade unionists fought against air and river pollution in their communities. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that safe workplaces - an issue where the history of trade union involvement is more familiar - are also an environmental issue. One reason why the trade union record is often overlooked is that environmental issues have often been raised by environmental movements, which have paid little attention to social and work issues. Equally, trade unionists often reject environmental arguments, for example claiming that it is more important to preserve and create jobs than to ‘save a few trees’ - as was the kind of dismissive remark sometimes made in the course of our interviews. However, things are changing dramatically and fast.

The Fine Print I:

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