It has come to light that the Japanese government’s Fukushima Daiichi cleanup plan is failing due to problems concerning counterfeit contracts. The government is now left reassessing its human resource strategy and considering how to effectively secure the number of employees required to carry out the work. As it presently stands, more than half of the laborers employed at the nuclear site are suspected of being involved in counterfeit contract work.

Termed as the ‘working schedule’, the plan to disassemble and decommission the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was finalized by the government and Tokyo Electric Power in July last year. It was estimated at the time that a workforce of around 12,000 would be required to effectively carry out operations at the plant, and that by the year 2016 any possible shortages in working numbers would be resolved.

Up until May last year, the designated number of employees qualified to work with radioactive materials was estimated at a total of 24,300. Excluding personnel exposed to high levels of radiation through onsite work, the number of laborers deemed suitable to re-engaged in work once their designated contract had come to a close was 23,300. It was stated by the government that this number would be sufficient in steering the work at Daiichi towards a state of completion.

However, what alerted the government to a serious problem were the results of a questionnaire conducted by Tokyo Electric Power that asked 4,000 workers at the plant about their working conditions, asking:

“Is the company providing you with daily instruction the same as that which pays your salary?”

In response to which, an astounding 47 percent of staff replied that the company that paid their salary was not the same as that which organised workers and provided instructions. The situation appears to be that the original subcontractors are in turn subcontracting work to other groups or workers. The cycle is then being repeated, giving rise to a multiple subcontract working system where it is difficult to know who is really in charge. While the original subcontractor might well be operating legally, with multiple subcontracts overlapping in this way, the practice of passing designated work down from subcontractor to subcontractor ultimately creates a breeding ground for unscrupulous activity.

With the situation as it stands, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (METI) admits that securing the required workforce is becoming a difficult task. METI announced that at some point before June 2013, it will be looking to revise the work policy at the plant. What compounds problems further is that the radiation exposure levels of many workers far exceed those being officially recorded.

Ministry representative Kentaro Funaki, who is working on the resolution of the nuclear disaster, comments:

“An improvement in labor conditions is essential. Only by reconsidering the working strategy and looking at ways to improve it, will it be possible to secure the necessary labor force to bring the work at Daiichi nuclear power plant to an end.”

Source: Yaho0! Japan ニュース