A national transport stoppage began in Japan on Tuesday (25th April) and caused commuter chaos across the country, affecting about 50 million people -- almost half of Japan's population.
A national transport stoppage began in Japan on Tuesday (25th April) and caused commuter chaos across the country, affecting about 50 million people -- almost half of Japan's population. The planned four day stoppage is in pursuit of a string of wages claims.
SYNOPSIS: A wave of strikes has hit Japan in recent weeks, but the transport workers' stoppage has been the most disruptive. In Tokyo, many companies laid on special transport to get their staff to work, but others spent the first night of the strike in makeshift city office dormitories.
The company bus runs ensured that most businesses in the capital continued to operate with at least part of their staff. But many people stayed at home.
Only a tiny percentage of transport services operated normally. Private railway employees accepted a pay offer and ended their stoppage within hours, but state workers on buses, trains and the Tokyo underground continued their strike, defying laws which forbid government employees from striking.
Even the airline workers got in on the act. Japan Air Lines on Tuesday (25 April) had to cancel 53 international and domestic flights when cabin crew union members staged a lightning walkout.
The two powerful unions on the state-run Japan National Railway and workers of several other government sectors, including posts, telephones and telegrams, want a wage rise of more than seven per cent. They have been offered nearly four per cent. The postal workers, however, called off their strike that was scheduled to coincide with the transport stoppage. They feared leaders would be prosecuted.
Japan's Supreme Court last year ruled in favour of criminal prosecution of public sector union leaders who organised illegal strikes. This year, the government warned workers to call off their strikes, but most state employees, who lost the right to strike after the Second World War, ignored the warnings. Their decision meant headaches for commuters. Huge traffic jams in Tokyo slowed progress for those using their own transport.
By contrast, Tokyo's normally bustling station was peaceful as ranks of trains lay idle. The strike is due to continue until midnight on Friday (28 April). Hopes of an earlier settlement look slim.