Among other grievances, workers allege that they are not paid fairly for their preparation time or labor and hours worked are unjustly rounded down. 

Sushiro, a popular chain of revolving sushi (kaitenzushi) restaurants, is in the midst of collective bargaining with employees who have formed a new workers’ union to represent workers of conveyor belt sushi chains across the country.

On October 27 at a press conference in Tokyo, two male university students employed part-time at the sushi chain announced the creation of the Conveyor Belt Sushi Union within the Restaurant Workers’ Union to which they belong. The students, an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old, work in Tokyo and Saitama locations of the chain respectively. Back on August 31, they had filed a written request with Akindo Sushiro, Sushiro’s managing company, through the Restaurant Workers’ Union to seek reform. Their demands included the following:

  • Compensation for preparation time, which can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes before the start of their paid shift when they thoroughly sanitize themselves
  • The calculation of working time, which is currently done by rounding down to the closest five minutes, in more accurate increments, as well as retroactive payment of such wages to all employees
  • Raising the hourly rate to a standard 1,500 yen (US$10.17) per hour due to the labor shortage and added burden on workers
  • No requirement to use their full names on name badges
  • Better air conditioning in the hot summer months

▼ The Restaurant Workers’ Union post about the formation of the Conveyor Belt Sushi Union

In an initial response dated September 22, Akindo Sushiro agreed to pay wages based on increments of one minute moving forward, will require only an employee’s surname on name badges, and is considering better air conditioning during the summer months. The chain has also added a uniform three minutes of additional pay for preparation time but has refused to retroactively compensate workers for rounded-down working time.

Collective bargaining is scheduled to take place on November 15, during which talks regarding the latter point and changing the hourly compensation rate are expected to continue. The new union is also accepting new labor consultations in an effort to effect change, having received approximately 20 petitions from other conveyor belt sushi restaurant workers employed at other chains such as Kura Sushi and Kappa Sushi so far.

Source: Kyodo News via Otakomu, MSN
Featured image: SoraNews24
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