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Irate workers to take the governor to court

Date Posted: 2006-03-24

Angry ex-government workers who feel they’ve been discriminated against are taking Okinawa’s governor to court.

Okinawa Prefecture Social Welfare Business Group Workers Association has 181 members, all treated as government employees until a recent change triggered by the Trinity Reform Plan that forced prefectures to take more fiscal responsibility for their actions.

The workers contend their salaries and retirement should remain the same as prefecture civil workers in 1971. Until now the prefecture has paid their retirement allowances, as well as 50-70% of their medical welfare insurance.

Budgetary constraints have caused the prefecture to order the Welfare Business Group to be privatized, transferred to a private company. The prefecture maintains it has no more responsibilities for paying salaries of retirements, saying the private company should pay it.

The workers association vehemently disagrees, arguing that even after the organization becomes a private enterprise, the prefecture should continue being responsible.

“It’s nonsense,” says Group Chairman Toshihiko Kinjo. “Beginning next year the private organization is going to slash salaries on 22% of our people. And then, no retirement allowance?” He asks “Who ordered the organization become private?,” then answers the prefecture unilaterally made the decision without even consulting the workers.

Kinjo promises “we are still prefecture civil workers, and after becoming privatized we will never give up our retirement allowance.” The court challenge to Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine is simple: Please pay us, and everything will be okay.

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