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14 Mar 2002
Taken from [DLMURL="http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news"]Mainichi News[/DLMURL], June 26, 2001:

Workers strike over French gov't.'s "Japanese only" bonus cuts

Japanese workers whose bonuses were unilaterally cut by a French government-operated organization went on strike Tuesday to protest their discriminatory treatment.

Members of the Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo labor union were on strike for two hours, demanding the institute and French Foreign Ministry restored normal working conditions and permitted collective bargaining.

E-mail supporting the workers has flooded in to the workers, most of it lambasting institute, which is charged with promoting French language and culture. The strike is the first in the institute's 52-year history.

But Marie-Christine de Navacelle, director of the Institute, remains steadfast in her opposition to maintaining equal conditions for Japanese workers.

"The bonus cuts were lawful and in line with the workers' contracts. There is no need to gain the consent of the union for them," de Navacelle said.

Under the Trade Union Law, employers must not refuse requests from labor unions for collective bargaining in company agreements.

The institute told the 14 workers in January that their biannual bonus payments, two months salary under their employment contracts, would be reduced by half, and the cuts were made in June. Salaries of the workers' colleagues, however, were reportedly not altered.

Union officials reportedly sent numerous requests demanding an explanation for the reduced payments of only the 14 workers, but the organization did not give a clear reply, only citing increased personnel costs, the officials said.

Many people have supported the workers in their fight for equal conditions. "The incident will ruin Japanese endearment toward France. I want them to stop doing things that will destroy friendly Japanese-French relations. How can the French government and Foreign Ministry allow this discriminatory behavior to continue," e-mail from one man read.

Another sent an e-mail reading, "The name of the country of 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity' has been sullied."

Copyright ツゥ Mainichi News
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