Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: In lieu of layoffs, workers sent to boredom rooms

‘WINDOW SEAT TRIBE’:Japan’s labor laws keep firms’ unneeded workers on the payroll, but left with nothing to do but gaze out the window and read newspapers

NY Times News Service, TAGAJO, Japan

In February, just two years shy of Sato’s retirement, a manager had blunt news: “Your job no longer exists.”

She refused to quit, and was dispatched to the chase-out room. There she completed an online degree in nursing the elderly. However, she did not quit. Since last month, she has been assigned to do data entry.

Sony’s labor union estimates that the plant’s workforce is half the size it was three years ago.

Sato said that in the factory’s heyday, workers called Sony the Sony Maru, or “the Sony Ship.”

“Everybody was on board, our fates tied together,” she said. “Not anymore.”

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