Dockworkers’ unions request companies refuse soil hauling work for Henoko base construction

May 30, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Ikue Nakaima

On May 29 the National Federation of Dockworkers’ Unions of Japan, comprised of 22,773 members from around the country and chaired by Kinichiro Itotani, submitted a written request to the Japan Harbor Transportation Association (JHTA) that companies refuse soil hauling work related to construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago City. Prior to this the federation had made resolutions and declarations opposing the construction in Henoko, but this is the first time it has incorporated a written request for labor-management negotiations asking to discuss the topic as a labor problem.

Construction in Henoko requires 21 million cubic meters of soil, and out of this amount 17 million cubic meters (about 80 percent of the soil) will be transported from outside of Okinawa. Documents included with the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) application for land reclamation named seven off-Okinawa locations as the sources for that soil. The named areas were Tokunoshima, Amami Oshima, Sata-misaki, Amakusa, Goto, Moji, and Setouchi.

An executive committee member of the National Federation of Dockworkers’ Unions of Japan and official of an affiliated commission opposing Henoko construction Chikara Moromi said, “We want to ask not to be made to do illegal work the same way we would face a workplace issue.” According to Moromi, the JHTA took the stand that as long as an authorized third party has not decided whether or not construction in Henoko is illegal, then it Is not the JHTA’s place to say.

The labor federation’s written request claims that forcing through construction of a new base in Henoko without a coral fracturing permit from the governor of Okinawa is an illegal action by the Japanese government. As such, it asks that laborers not be made to participate in something illegal. Specifically, the request asks that the JHTA: (1) as an employers’ association not turn a blind eye to the government’s illegal actions, and (2) enforce rules that prohibit member companies from conducting any soil hauling or handling work for Henoko new base construction. The federation is requesting the conclusion of a labor-management agreement under its right to collective bargaining.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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