Japan’s first strike in decades: Tokyo department store workers hit the picket lines

TOKYO, Sep 01 (peoplesworld.org) - Japanese retailer Seven & i Holdings Co. is selling department store chain Sogo & Seibu Co. to a U.S. investment fund, even as the union representing the company’s retail workers went on strike ahead of the announcement Thursday. It’s the first major walkout the country has seen in decades.

Some 900 striking workers marched and handed out leaflets on the streets near the flagship Seibu department store in Tokyo, where the shutters were closed. On a typical day, the store sees 100,000 customers walk through its doors.

There is widespread speculation that Fortess may have snapped up the department store at a cheap price in hopes of profiting off the valuable land on which its outlets sit; the U.S. private equity fund is rumored to have little interest in running retail locations—thus putting all the workers’ jobs in jeopardy.

Sogo & Seibu’s workers had the support of labor groups from rival department stores including Takashimaya and Isetan Mitsukoshi.

Building solidarity with the public, strikers apologized on camera in Japanese TV news reports for any inconvenience they may be causing the public but said the selling of their employer to a U.S. hedge fund endangered jobs and left them no choice. ...continue reading

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