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Base workers set to go on strike Wednesday

Date Posted: 2007-11-20

The Zenchuro, the American Base Workers Union, will go on strike Wednesday.
Three meetings between the union chairman, Kazuo Yamagawa, and the Ministry of Self Defense failed to produce results this past week, leaving the workers with only their promised option of a base strike. The union acknowledges things will get “messy” on the bases Wednesday as thousands of workers go on strike.
Okinawa’s Governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, has tossed his support to the base workers, telling them “I will do my best for you.” The workers have been demanding the Ministry of Self Defense drop its plans to slash their salaries, a demand the Ministry has rejected.
The walkout Wednesday will affect many activities and operations on Okinawa bases, as at least the 6,000 union workers boycott their jobs. The union has AAFES workers, fire department personnel, gas station operators, aircraft refuelers and maintenance personnel, construction forklift drivers, cooks and aviation technicians who will all stage a four-hour work stoppage.
AAFES Food Courts, PX and BX facilities and service stations will be open during the strike, but some services could be affected. Two-thirds of Okinawa’s 9,000 base workers are union members. Nationwide, 16,000 of the 26,000 U.S. base workers are members of the union.
Yamagawa says Wednesday’s action won’t be a single move by his union. “If the Ministry of Self Defense doesn’t listen to our requirements, we are going to have to strike again and again,” he says. “We will fight until they listen to our opinion. A 10% salary cut is too much.”

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