TOKYO -- About 1,000 foreign workers of Japanese descent who worked at a plant of electronics giant Sharp Corp. were not permitted to renew their fixed-term contracts this year, a labor union in Mie Prefecture, central Japan, said on Nov. 30.
According to Union Mie, since June this year the organization has received consultations from some 35 foreign workers who have or had worked at Sharp through a job placement company in the city of Suzuka, Mie Prefecture. The company is a Sharp subcontractor. The union quoted the placement firm as saying that they had dispatched some 3,000 foreign workers to Sharp's Kameyama Plant in Mie, which makes liquid-crystal displays for smartphones.
However, the union told The Mainichi that the placement firm declined to renew the contracts of the foreigners working at the plant after Sharp streamlined the factory's operations, resulting in about 1,000 of the workers losing their jobs. There were apparently just 100 foreign workers still employed through the Suzuka-based firm as of Nov. 28, when the union last contacted the company.
According to a Kyodo News report, an official at a company operating under the placement firm explained that some 400 foreign workers had quit by October this year after their work hours were cut due to Sharp's moves. A further 1,000 workers were apparently not permitted to renew their employment contracts this year.
A Sharp public relations official told The Mainichi, "I learned about the situation in the press, and the situation is regrettable, but we don't have the details of this case, as it happened at companies operating under our subcontractor."
The placement company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Mainichi.
The union said that the workers' contracts had been renewed every two months, as they were shuffled among around 10 companies operating under the placement firm. The union and other organizations filed a complaint with the Mie Labor Bureau and its Tsu Labor Standards Supervision Office on Nov. 22, accusing the placement company of dispatching workers illegally.
In a statement, the union expresses concern about the government's bill to accept more foreign workers into Japan now before the Diet, and said, "It is unacceptable for the company to threaten foreign workers' rights and lives."