Thousands to become homeless after large scale job cuts

By Cory Gaskins

When visiting London two years ago, I kept being accosted by panhandlers. However, I noticed that they did not pester my companions. My Caucasian friend joked, “It’s because you‘re Japanese–they probably think you have money.” Japan has become synonymous with wealth. However, the bleak news reports this holiday season may signal the end of the “Japanese are wealthy” stereotype.

The amount of “haken-giri,” or temporary worker cutbacks, have been taking place in drastic amounts. Just this month, Nissan Motors announced that they will be cutting 2,000 temporary workers by next March. In a climate where a third of the working population are employed as temporary staff, this wave of “haken-giri” indicates that the number of homeless will increase drastically. A majority of Japan’s temporary workers live in company dormitories and without a job, forcing them to leave their home. According to a national survey conducted by The Ministry of Health, there will be at least 30,000 non-fulltime employees losing their jobs between the period of October 2008 to March 2009. “Haken Union,” an organization for temporary-employees, posted a statement on their website saying that “If we end the year like this, we will be creating a massive amount of homeless people.”

The hard-hit automobile industry is a large part of this problem. The economic downturn coincides with the end of a three-year employment contract made back in 2006—a year when automobile manufacturers changed their employment system from “contract” to “temporary.” Already dubbed as “the 2009 problem,” thousands have been left terrified about the prospect of finding another job during such hard times.

However, the bleak news doesn’t end there. Unemployed foreign residents, many of them Brazilian, has also increased. Major manufacturing companies in Shizuoka Prefecture's Hamamatsu city have announced plans to cut hundreds of temporary jobs—affecting the thousands of Brazilian workers that live there. Many of them don’t speak Japanese, further inflicting their prospects for re-employment in this industrial city.

Another group of people with struggling employment prospects are the older, middle-aged generation. A quarter of Japan’s temporary workers are over 45-years-old. Not only do they have children and aged parents to support, but their re-employment prospects are much lower than those of the younger generation.

The temporary worker culture was borne out of companies requiring specialists with a specific skill set. They were often paid more than their full-time counterparts and hopped from one company to the next. But now, they are regarded as cheap laborers that are hired to do simple tasks.

This string of “haken-giri” reinforces the criticism leveled at the current temporary employment culture, and forces the government to rethink Japan’s employment laws. Many have voiced strong opinion against this system, criticizing this form of employment as a disposable, convenient scheme for businesses, and ignores their corporate responsibility for the livelihood and wellbeing of the workers.

What we are currently witnessing is not a malfunction in the system but the result of a system destined for failure.

It is crucial that the government and corporations create effective plans to resolve this societal collapse. But any changes made will only happen after millions have greeted the New Year without a home, whilst those that can afford it take advantage of the strong yen and travel abroad.


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Comments

I don't understand why Haken people are complaining that their contracts were terminated. Haken in Haken, it's not stable.
Did these people think those who are "seishain" are just lucky and that we ended up being a succesful seishain?
No. We've studied hard at college, worked hard for our careers, changed jobs to further our careers, and some of us even went back to college for further education and TOEIC TOEFL scores......

Some of the Haken who were laid off at Canon Oita were over 50 years old. One said on an interview that he has no talent nor office skills. He didn't wake up one day to be 50 with no skill, he had 32 years after high school to gain office / admin skills while he was working. That's how all of us who are seishain with career all earned our admin skills........

Microsoft and a lot of software companies use "Haken-giri" kind of labor - temps, contract workers, and interns. But there's one difference between these companies and this situation: housing. Initially, it seems nice of the company to offer housing to their haken-giri, but with this understanding that they are not under a permanent position with the company, the workers assume a great risk of being homeless. I don't know if they had full understanding of that risk, but - based upon this article and previous comments - they probably didn't.
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OliviaB.

Merit

* You can work in a way that fits to your lifestyle:
Eg. Working 3 or 4 days a week and/or 4 hours a day, and the office is only 30 minutes away from your home, etc. You also wouldn’t be forced to work extra hours or at weekends.
* You can choose a job in the field where you want to specify.
Eg. PC operator, Telephone operator, secretary, etc. If you wish to utilize your language skills, you have lots of job options. Some temp-staff agencies provide you with training scheme so that you might have an opportunity to brush up your skills.
* You can have lots of experiences working in different offices:
Working opportunity might be wide open for temp staff even in a big and famous foreign company where it can be difficult for you to be employed as a full-time worker. Your skills can be improved thorough the various tasks you are supposed to work on, and it is possible that you get various experiences which might help you to step further. The best advantage of this system can be that you wouldn’t be bored by mannerism.
* Relatively high wage:
Hourly wage is relatively high so that it can balance out a disadvantage that you cannot get bonus.

Demerit

* Unstable working status:
It is possible that you cannot immediately find a new job one after another. The system can be unstable employment.
* No bonus, wage is reduced according to holidays:
Whereas full time employees get bonus, temp staff get none even though they work together and do the same job. The wage is reduced when the company is off such as on public holidays. Although the hourly rate is relatively higher, the annual income might possibly be lower than full-time employees. Having said that, you can work flexibly in a way that you wish, and therefore it depends on you which benefit you take.
* No promotion:
As temp staff is only supposed to achieve duty based on the contract and you are assumed to work properly and efficiently, you will not get promotion.
* No responsibility:
It is not always but possible that you cannot do a job which requires you to take a responsibility because many companies get temp staff to cover extra tasks rather than core tasks. It can frustrate you if you are highly ambitious in improving your career.

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nick
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how can people keep their jobs?????

business