TEPCO workers quitting due to threats, sense of despair

TOKYO —

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Friday 460 employees sought voluntary retirement in fiscal 2011, which ended on March 31.

The number was 3.5 times higher than the usual number, TBS reported. In March alone, more than 100 employees took voluntary retirement, officials said at a news conference.

The main reason given for the increasing number by employees were threats and bullying of their families by people angry at TEPCO’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis following last year’s tsunami. The second most common reason was a sense of despair over their business future, TBS reported.

Analysts say morale is low at the utility with current employees becoming increasingly concerned about the company’s ability to secure a stable supply of personnel.

TEPCO announced this week it was cutting executives’ annual income by 25% and everyone else’s salaries by 20%. It also said it would not be paying any bonuses this year.

Japan Today

  • 5

    bajhista65

    That's the result when the Generals and top officials managing the Power Plant blundered.

  • 18

    Brainiac

    I feel sorry for the ordinary employees who have to bear the brunt of the public's anger. There is absolutely no reason to harass their family.

  • -6

    DenTok2009

    I'm willing to work for TEPCO!

  • 1

    cactusJack

    Some advice for TEPCO employees: wear Mickey Mouse ears, and the world will laugh with you.

  • 11

    DoLittleBeLate

    A ship goes where the captain steers. And when the captain steers it to the rocks, the crew has little recourse other than jumping ship. Why go down when you can save yourself?

  • 2

    MustardKing

    Blaming the employees is wrong. Most are innocent and were previously ignorant.

    Cat's out of the bag now though. There are far more NPPs than this country needs, and to stay with TEPCO now, beyond being directly involved in safety, clean-up, and management of the continuing crisis in Fukushima, is tantamount to keeping your stormtrooper job after Emperor Palpatine took over. There are no excuses now. Find a new job, and join the light side of the force.

  • 1

    Disillusioned

    I think it is high time the government stepped in and took over this debacle. The disillusionment of the employees is only gonna extend through the whole country (if it hasn't already). It only takes money and if you talk to 'Naoki Average' Japan is such a rich country. Really? Where? What exactly has the J-Gov done to support the efforts of TEPCO to recover? They offered to buy 51%? Big effing deal! They need to throw out all the ignorant execs and start paying these people to work for TEPCO. For my reckoning, they should put TEPCO onto the international market and let foreign investors take it over, after TEPCO has fully compensated the millions of people effected by their ignorance, of course. By that time you should be able to buy TEPCO for a six-pack and a pair of thongs!

  • 1

    gogogo

    It also said it would not be paying any bonuses this year.

    They were paying them last week, glad to hear that has changed.

  • 1

    tmarie

    25% for execs?? Not nearly a big enough cut considering all the crap they've done, the money they've stole from the tax payers and the price increases.

  • 5

    Mirai Hayashi

    executives’ annual income by 25%

    Only 25%? I think they can afford to go lower considering that they put whole northeastern part of the country in jeopardy

  • 3

    almostshat

    I think it is high time the government stepped in and took over this debacle

    @ Disillusioned, would you trust them to organise a piss-up in a brewery? Or an orgy in a brothel?

    Thought not.

  • 10

    yasukuni

    "The main reason given for the increasing number by employees were threats and bullying of their families by people angry"

    That's really sad. The rank and file need support. The guys at the top need to be put on trial.

  • 7

    YongYang

    Absolutely no blame to placed on any of the workers who must be mentally and physically exhausted. TEPCO, this entity is again the bringer of misery, incompetence and failure. Executives should be having 50% pay cut and the workers a 5% increase INCLUDING those shipped in from the 'nuclear gypsy' pool. Used and abused. To go after their next of kin is so misinformed, it's the cozy grease between management and ex-politicians / business / agencies that needs setting on fire. NOTHING has changed. No new agency. No new approach. Just the grease making it all slide...

  • -6

    BurakuminDes

    Somewhere in the background is the sound of the world's smallest violin playing...

  • 1

    Newsman

    How about this as an alternative paycut solution? If you actually involved in daily, on-site TEPCO cleanup work, your salary is UNCUT, you are eligible for enhanced medical and life insurance, and you qualify for a big bonus if -- and this is a big bonus -- the great corporate ship that is TEPCO ever rights itself down the road.

    If you normally wear a suit and work in a boardroom in Tokyo, however, you are put on minimum wage until this debacle finishes!

  • 1

    Reckless

    Based on the last sentence of the article, I imagine most people quit for the money. No bonus could mean a 40% pay cut.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Public anger is understandable, but misdirecting that anger to your average Joe working for TEPCO is just plain wrong. They should be directing it at management, and hounding them to no end. What's more, thanks to management, who will only take a 25% pay cut (from their fortunes), the regular workers must take a 20% cut. It's understandable why they all want to jump ship -- and that's not even touching on the risks they face while execs sit in Tokyo and do nothing.

  • -2

    Synbios

    I know that most of TEPCO's employees aren't to be blamed for the whole catastrophe that the lack of security measures and proper preparations in case of a disaster at Fukushima's nuclear plant has occasionated. But at the same time I think that most of the people that work there would have resigned a few months after the quake If they had any kind of standards and ethics.

    Doesn't matter how many times people say the word "kizuna" if they are not willing to do sacrifices to honor it. The facts are that both corporate big-shots/employees and normal citizens are showing their selfishness with their acts. It's sad that right after the disaster everybody was doing their best through support campaigns, donations, saving electricity, etc but now most of the people are just worried about their own asses.

    But to their credit I will say that this would probably happen in almost any country.

  • 1

    jforce

    Following orders is no excuse. You work for the man, you are part of the problem. Get out while you can. And I wish the anger would be directed at the government, too. Maybe some of them would quit.

  • -8

    Jay Que

    This harsh scapegoating of Tepco's suffering employees is truely reprehensible and those piling on should be ashamed but alas its so easy to hurl stones and epithets when instead it was an Earthquake that caused all this my friends, dont be so willfully self deceptive as you are causing more pain and harm and doing nothing to help. For shame!

  • 3

    kurisupisu

    Working in the most dangerous profession in Japan may also have something to do with it?

  • 0

    jamurai

    Of course, they would never get voluntary retirement if they had mentioned anything to that effect, would they?

  • -1

    Ocgoodtimes

    I suppose the silver lining to this dark cloud is that there'll be more job openings available.

  • 2

    jamurai

    ...and I still respectively disagree SmithinJapan, it is not TEPCO management that the public wrath should be aimed at (they should no longer have been players 12 months ago), the government is 100% responsible for the whole mess now...and it was from Day 1.To waste your energy "hounding" the management of TEPCO "no end" is going to achieve exactly what?

    TEPCO is simply the scapegoat, a lamb left out to the slaughter by the government. It just serves to illustrate the failings of the mechanisms of government in this country and the weakness of its democracy that this farce is still allowed to continue. Do you think a private utility would still be running the show in the US or western Europe? Hell, no! The Japanese people don't need to be setting about the straw man with matches. They need to be taking a knife to the heart of government and the beaurocrcy in this country. Weak, indecisive, irresponsible, corrupt. Throw 'em out. Overhaul the system. Japan needs a second renaissance. Badly. This is the moment where the voice of the people could force change. TEPCO are puppets.

    Having said all that however, its slightly dispiriting that the voice of the people tends to be an emphatic "shoganai jyan" accompanied by a disinterested shrug of the shoulders. My crystal ball tells me that young Japanese of today will in 50 years time be saying, "Ah, life used to be so good in the old days, maybe we should have worked harder to preserve that." And their kids will just mumble, "shoganai, jyan" and get back to watching crap TV while their Chinese homework lies unattended in their schoolbags.

  • -1

    Elvensilvan

    @jamurai

    While I agree that the Japanese government should share the blame on this problem, there is bountiful evidence to put TEPCO and the other nuclear plant operators in the blame aisle.

    Firstly, the Japanese government are composed of politicians who know little or even nothing of nuclear policies and management. Also, politicians come and go, just in the post for several terms at the most. Nuclear plant operators, on the other hand, get to stay in the business until they retire.

    Secondly, while the government should have been poking checks into the safety and some management operations of the operators, the safety and management responsibilities are still fully on the operators' side.

    There have been numerous cases where nuclear plant operators have time and again proven to have knowingly ignored safety and management guidelines, and kept themselves busy with "their jobs", and earning a nice fat retirement egg for themselves.

    How exactly can we call TEPCO a scapegoat when even the current government tries to cover up or even delay release of what may be important public information? To have an effective scapegoat, do an extensive investigation, put the blame entirely on TEPCO, stop or reduce public funding and let those responsible be hanged. So far, nothing of these have happened.

    Finally (for now ... I may think of some more reasons later), the use of the nuclear gypsies, who have been mostly untrained and even reportedly bypassing safety guidelines for fear of being unemployed.

  • -2

    jamurai

    Elvensilvan, of course TEPCO have to accept the blame for their failings, my point is that the government should not still be allowing things to happen for which any blame needs to be apportioned. To waste energy hounding and pointing fingers at TEPCO officials will serve no ultimate purpose.Of course, people ultimately should be held responsible for their actions (or lack of action) at that level, but we need to be looking at the failures higher up the ladder.

    People need to hold their governments accountable. The Japanese government is only too happy to hide in the shadows, shirk responsibility and let others take the fall. Where there is full and clear accountabilty in government, governments make things happen. It is this government's responsibility to make things happen, i.e. to make this mess go away. I'm pretty sure the Americans or the British would've sorted it out by now, ACTION would have been taken swiftly and decisively at government levels to address the situation and their TEPCO equivalents would eventaually have been properly disciplined, criminal charges filed where appropriate and brought to justice (and investigations would also have been opened to look at the failure of the regulatory system and any misdoings of individuals therewithin. Not to mention looking into the failings at local and national government levels). So that in future such disasters can be prevented if at all possible and if not so that the response to such disasters will be much better.

    That is where the focus should be.

  • -1

    jamurai

    Ps Smith in Japan, I meant to "respectfully" disagree, not respectively (?!?!?)

  • 0

    saru_au

    I'm sure the executives’ annual income was bumped by 25% a few days before this 25% reduction

  • 0

    Scrote

    I imagine many of the best people, those who can easily find jobs elsewhere, will have quit. A 20% pay cut and no bonus is very harsh. What happens when no-one is left there with the skills to run a power utility? The government should take over TEPCO now; the longer they leave it the more unmanageable it becomes. Instead, they do nothing whilst the supplier of the capital's electricity becomes more unstable and less viable every day. What an utterly, utterly useless government.

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    What position did they hold at TEPCO?

  • 0

    Hcann

    The spectrum of statements here is astonishing. Particularly those advocating transferral to foreign ownership The nuclear power industry is an albatross around our necks. Who knows what the truth is or where it resides. Japanese are notorious for making covering excuses. Tatemae. At the same time can also be an incredibly petty people sometimes. However ultimately the problem is that a country so prone to earthquakes and other natural disaster occurrences should find an alternative energy resource.

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