Masako Miyake 4    By Masako Miyake, SNDdeN

“Decent Work” came out in the “Agenda for the 21st Century” by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1999. I heard about this at the General Assembly Third Committee discussion on human rights. A “Decent Work for All” Agenda based on Rights, Employment, Protection and Social Dialogue provides opportunities for productive work that delivers:

- a fair income
- security in the workplace
- social protection for workers and their families.

Fukushima Plant

Fukushima Plant

The Decent Work Agenda is basically focused on migrants, young people and women. But “Decent Work” reminds me of the workers at Fukushima Nuclear Plant. Against Prime Minister Abe’s words, the situation might get much worse. Thousands of workers are indeed in the midst of the plant.

There were leaks of radiated water in August and again in October at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FNPP). These are caused by the rudimentary oversight of the workers. Decontamination in the station highly depends on the handworks. Workers are not members of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). They are the day laborers hired by the subcontractors or dispatched by temporary personnel services. The skilled workers left, some intentionally and some because of over-radioactive contamination. Many of the workers are inexperienced amateurs including aged farmers of the district. Because a large amount of public funds are invested for decontamination, several hundred companies, even gangster organizations, joined. There are problems in working conditions and cut of wages.

Fukushima workers

Fukushima workers

Even without these problems, it is a very dangerous, tense site. Workers at the Nuclear Power Station are daily radiated, and even if they have some insurance when they are working, the physical symptoms will come years later. How can they be taken care of at that time? The shortage of workers, increasing both in the number and the quality, makes the working conditions worse. At the same time the risk of accidents is on the increase.

Getting back to the ILO’s Agenda, I cannot call works in FNPP “Decent Work”. The workers and the former workers began to raise a voice. There is no consideration, respect, and release of the fact in the site of their labor. I am sure migrant workers will be invited in the near future. There will be more worry then. We know some works are dangerous and severe but decent. We cannot avoid dangerous and severe work to restore and stop the operation of the nuclear reactor, but we should not treat the workers severely. Where there are no human rights, it is impossible to be successful in an operation.

“Decent Work” is not always connected with poverty. It is a problem of human rights.

Read more:  fukushima-workers-special-report


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