Employees go on landmark strike to tackle unpaid overtime, receive overwhelming support from netizens.

Tokyo Station has plenty of vending machines, allowing shoppers to hydrate themselves while grabbing delicious confections as yummy souvenirs for loved ones.

But visitors to the station have recently noticed that beverages in the vending machines have been sold out for long periods of time, and for some odd reason they don’t seem to be getting restocked at all.

The mystery of the unstocked machines came to light when @magazine_posse, an NPO organization supporting labor rights in Japan, revealed the shocking truth on Twitter.

▼ Here’s why shoppers were thirsty these few days.
(Translation below)

“We would like to inform everyone in Tokyo Station that beverages are all sold out in vending machines. 14 union members working for the black company, Japan Beverage Holdings, are on strike in response to unpaid overtime and unfair disciplinary actions against members. We’re negotiating for zero overtime and one-hour breaks. Thank you for your understanding.”

▼ Companies with poor working conditions forcing employees into
excessive unpaid overtime are referred to as “black companies” in Japan.

Japan Beverage Holdings has always adhered to an “off-site official working hours” system, paying employees for a maximum of 7.5 hours. Product replenishment, stock-taking, and juggling product expiry dates are all extremely time-consuming tasks, however, making completing the job within a mere 7.5 hours an impossibility.

Add in managing hot and cold drinks into the mix and workers find themselves constantly finishing work after 10 to 12 hours, and though the company has strict rules on working hours, an overabundance of employees means that such issues are often overlooked.

▼ Victims of black companies are often young employees.

According to Japanese news website ITmedia, Japan Beverage Holdings was issued a warning by the government-affiliated Labor Standards Inspection Office in December last year. Yet instead of straight up reimbursing for the unpaid work, the black company offered employees “small cash repayments” that may have been considerably less.

Instead of reviewing their work ethics, the company is actually taking disciplinary action against some of the employees leading the strike. On the bright side, the tweet has garnered overwhelming positive reaction from netizens, most of whom hope that some sort of compromise can be reached.

Excessive overworking is still a huge issue in Japanese society, and though some companies are taking insane steps towards making sure their employees leave on time, significant progress remains yet to be seen.

Source: Twitter/@magazine_posse via ITmedia
Top image: Twitter/@magazine_posse
Insert images: Pakutaso (1 ,2)