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Labor unions feel prefecture opposes bus co merger

Date Posted: 2003-02-28

Representatives of labor unions at four Okinawan bus companies currently trying to finalize plans to merge held a joint meeting this week to discuss the plan. The unions held a press conference after the meeting, in which they accused Okinawa Prefecture Governor Keiichi Inamine and other prefecture officials of sabotaging the merger plan. Yoshimasa Karimata, the chairman of the workers’ union, said that the governor is not being fair and does not keep promises he has made.

“The governor promised at the Prefecture Assembly business meeting that the prefecture would arrange a loan to the new bus company, but he has now brought up new conditions for such an arrangement. It is not fair, it means that the prefecture is against the whole plan of unifying the bus companies,” Karimata said. He said that previously no such conditions were set.

According to sources familiar with the plan, the prefecture has now established four conditions. (1) The prefecture will not take part in the management of the new company. (2) no advisor or other officials will be sent from the prefecture. (3) the prefecture will not guarantee the new bus company’s bank loans, and (4) the prefecture will not support repayment of the companies’ old debts.

Merging Okinawa’s four bus companies, two of which currently operate under bankruptcy, has proven to be an arduous task. The latest plan called for taking out a ¥10.4 billion bank loan to pay for the property that would be transferred to the new company, but labor union leaders say they fear the whole plan might collapse.

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