Fukushima workers sue Tepco over unpaid hazard pay

Tepco workers watching an operation to move a spent fuel rod to a cask in the spent fuel pool of the unit four reactor building in 2013 Tepco has been employing about 6,000 workers a day to decommission the Fukushima nuclear plant

Related Stories

Workers decommissioning Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have sued its operator Tokyo Electric (Tepco) over unpaid hazard pay.

The four men are demanding about 65m yen (£375,000; $620,000) in extra pay.

They claim the compensation for removing contaminated debris and patrolling the plant has been inadequate given the risks involved.

It is the first time Tepco has faced legal action from Fukushima workers over pay and working conditions.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says if they win, it could set a precedent for thousands of other workers to come forward.

The lawsuit was filed by two current and two former workers at Fukushima.

The Japanese utility company had no immediate comment.

"My health may be harmed some day," one of the workers was quoted as telling Japanese broadcaster NHK. "I believe there are many people who can't speak out about this kind of problem.

"I may get fired or may be given no further work. But I hope people will take this as an opportunity to speak up and get paid."

Fukushima fallout

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went into meltdown after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 knocked out reactor cooling systems at the plant.

Subsequent radiation leaks made the surrounding areas around the plant unfit for habitation.

Tens of thousands of people had to leave their homes and businesses because of radioactive contamination, with the majority still unable to return home.

The facility is operated by Tepco, which has spent billions of dollars on the clean-up and decommissioning of the plant.

Workers stand by as others handle machinery and pipes which will be used to create a frozen underground wall to surround the crippled reactor buildings at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, 9 July 2014. Tepco is now building an underground "ice wall" at the plant to contain radioactive water

About 6,000 people have been working at the plant daily over the last two months, and the lawsuit is demanding that they either be paid directly by Tepco or the government.

However, many are employed by contractors and subcontractors.

Our correspondent says that there have long been complaints that many subcontractors are not paying their workers properly, and allegations that some are connected to Japan's Yakuza crime gangs.

The lawsuit claims that the subcontractors profit from the funds allocated for the decommissioning at the expense of worker wages.

The lawyer co-ordinating the case on behalf of the Fukushima workers said at least two more people were expected to join the lawsuit.

Last month another court ordered Tepco to pay damages to the family of an evacuee, Hamako Watanabe, who killed herself after she was forced to leave her home because of radioactive contamination.

More on This Story

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    10:46: Hornby earnings
    Hornby share graph

    Shares in toymaker Hornby are up 1.4% today to 73p on the back of its better than expected half year earnings. Earlier, it said it had halved its losses to £520,000 compared with a year earlier. Hornby also said sales were much improved: up 8% to £24.2m in the period.

     
  2.  
    10:32: Public sector borrowing

    This financial year's borrowing target is £95.5bn, so with six months of the year left and the government already having borrowed £64.1bn, it still looks less likely the Treasury will hit its target. The question economists and MPs alike will begin to ask now will be, just how much will the government miss its target by?

     
  3.  
    10:15: Public sector borrowing
    Graph showing public sector borrow

    The above chart tells you all you need to know about the current state of government borrowing. The blue dot is where the government wants to get to. The red dot above it is last year's borrowing. And the blue line trending up above all of those is the actual path of government borrowing at the moment. Safe to say the Treasury is hoping for a big dip in the graph in January.

     
  4.  
    10:04: Public sector borrowing

    Borrowing increased at a slightly slower rate in October compared with the a month earlier, the Office For National Statistics has said. Public borrowing rose between April and October by £3.7bn. That compares with £5.4bn in April to September - which was a full 10% higher than a year earlier at that point. So borrowing has narrowed slightly.

     
  5.  
    09:48: Engineering BBC Radio 4

    Sir James added: "We do need to keep certain people here, who come to our universities. They come to our universities because they like Britain, they want to study engineering and science and develop new technology in Britain, and I think we should encourage to stay here. So I would change our immigration laws to allow the right sort of people to stay here - people we desperately need."

     
  6.  
    Public sector borrowing Breaking News

    The government borrowed £7.7bn in October, official figures show. That's a decrease of £0.2bn compared with the same month a year earlier.

     
  7.  
    09:28: Engineering BBC Radio 4

    More from Sir James Dyson. He's not a fan of the European Union (EU). He thinks the EU is "dominated by Germany". "In our particular field we have very large German companies who dominate standard setting and any reduction committees and so we get the old guard and old technology supported and not new technology. So I don't like a Europe dominated by Germany. I don't see that we need to be dominated and bullied by the Germans."

     
  8.  
    Twitter talk Via Twitter Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent
    Jack

    tweets: About to talk to Twitter and Square founder @jack about his plan to storm the UK cash register market

     
  9.  
    09:03: Engineering BBC Radio 4

    Sir James Dyson has been talking to the Today programme about his company's plans to invest in the UK. He wants to boost engineering in the UK, he says. He says the majority of engineering researchers at British universities come from overseas. "We must encourage them to stay here and work for companies like Dyson and create wealth and technology here in Britain," he adds.

     
  10.  
    08:50: Bank account raids
    Chancellor George Osborne r

    George Osborne will announce a series of climbdowns over controversial plans to allow the taxman to seize money directly from people's bank accounts, according to the Daily Mail. It reports the Chancellor will agree to introduce new safeguards designed to prevent misuse of the powers, expected to be applied to around 17,000 "persistent" non-payers a year. People will have to have a face-to-face visit from a tax official before money can be clawed back as well, it says.

     
  11.  
    08:35: Market update

    In London, the FTSE 100 Index is up 0.17% to 6690.03, where the number-two riser is Rolls-Royce with their new engine order. Germany's Dax is up 0.36% to 9518.41 and the Cac in Paris rose 0.25% to 4244.97.

     
  12.  
    08:21: Public borrowing BBC Radio 4

    So why low wage growth? Part of the problem is that the jobs being created in the economy are "relatively low paying" says Mr Tombs. He thinks it would be very hard for the government to pay for a rise in the personal tax allowance to £12,500 as the Prime Minister promised in his Conservative party conference speech in the next parliament without there being significantly bigger cuts in government department budgets.

     
  13.  
    08:05: Public borrowing BBC Radio 4

    More from Mr Tombs: He says the Chancellor's borrowing target for this financial year is "completely out of reach". Borrowing would have to come down by a third in order, over the next six months, for the government to meet its target. "The real problem has been income tax receipts," he says. "They've been extremely weak and that's partly because we have seen very weak growth in average earnings across the economy But also the rise in the personal tax allowance has cost rather more than was expected."

     
  14.  
    07:50: Public borrowing BBC Radio 4

    "We are expecting a small improvement [this month] in borrowing compared to the previous year. October is a particularly important month for corporation tax receipts and they have actually been growing at quite a healthy rates so far this year. Perhaps £7.5bn [in borrowing] compared to £7.8bn last year," Samuel Tombs, senior economist at Capital Economics tells the Today programme.

     
  15.  
    07:35: Hornby earnings
    Hornby train sets in a toy shop

    Toy maker Hornby has reported a near 50% reduction in losses for the six months to the end of September to £520,000 - it lost £1.09m for the same period a year earlier. In June the Scalextric owner reported pre-tax losses increased to £4.5m from £2.5m a year earlier. New boss Richard Ames has embarked on a turnaround, since taking over in April. In the summer the firm announced it had ended its contract with a Chinese company after supply chain problems.

     
  16.  
    Dulux boss Via Twitter Simon Jack Business correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Friday boss Matt Pullen runs Dulux hear him on dog, business and paint names like Sumatran Melody"

     
  17.  
    07:14: Rolls-Royce deal
    jet

    Rolls-Royce has agreed a $5bn deal for engines with Delta Air Lines. New Trent XWB engines will power 25 Airbus A350s and Trent 7000 engines will power 25 Airbus A330neo aircraft.

     
  18.  
    06:59: Market update

    Tokyo stocks closed higher by 0.33% as investors study Japan's preparation for an election next month. The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 56.65 points to 17,357.51, while the Topix index edged up 0.18%, or 2.54 points, to 1,400.18. In Hong Kong the benchmark Hang Seng Index edged up 25.42 points to 23,375.06.

     
  19.  
    Banker's pay Via Twitter Simon Jack Business correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "George Osborne's letter to Mark Carney on problems of higher fixed pay for bankers."

     
  20.  
    06:39: Engineering boost BBC Radio 4
    James Dyson

    James Dyson is announcing a £1.5bn investment and has started building a new factory at the Dyson HQ in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He has said it will eventually provide 3,000 new engineering jobs and he hopes it will lead to hundreds of new products being developed there. He'll be speaking to the Today programme later on this morning.

     
  21.  
    06:24: Public borrowing Radio 5 live

    Karen Campbell of accountants Grant Thornton on Wake Up to Money says government borrowing is higher because tax receipts are down. Lower wage growth, lower stamp duty and lower gas and oil revenues have all caused tax to be down.

     
  22.  
    06:14: Foreign direct investment Radio 5 live

    Foreign investment grew quicker in Wales last year than anywhere else in Britain, according to UKTI figures. Marc Evans is chief executive of Sure Chill and is on Wake Up to Money. His company has benefited from investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Doing business in mid-Wales brings benefits, he says, but "it takes a little longer to get to the airport".

     
  23.  
    06:02: Shale gas Radio 5 live

    "Are we serious about finding alternative energy?" asks David Buik, city analyst on Wake Up to Money. It's clean energy, he says. "The infrastructure is all there" when it comes to Ineos, he says.

     
  24.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on twitter @BBCBusiness.

     
  25.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning folks. We have the latest public sector finance figures later this morning. But before that there are half year earnings from toy maker Hornby and brewer Fullers. Stay with us.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.