TOKYO Dec 10 A construction firm involved in
the clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant said it employed a
worker who brought a complaint to labour regulators, but never
instructed its staff to conceal the terms of their work
arrangements, as he claimed.
Tec, a privately-held company based in Chiba near Tokyo,
said it employed Yoshitatsu Uechi, a mechanic and former bus
driver, who was one of 17 workers who went to work in Fukushima
in June 2012.
Uechi and other workers in that group from Okinawa said they
had been recruited by Token Kogyo, an unregistered broker, and
passed on to work under the direction of Tec, which reported to
Taisei Corp, according to Uechi and other workers.
In September of this year, Okinawa labour regulators
sanctioned Token Kogyo after investigating a complaint by Uechi
and concluding the broker improperly sent workers to Fukushima.
Last week, Reuters reported on the experience of Okinawa
workers based on interviews with Uechi, others in the group,
labour regulators and a review of work-related and bank records.
At the time, Tec declined to comment.
At Fukushima, Uechi said the Okinawa workers were told by a
Tec supervisor to lie to the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric
Power Co, and to say they had been employed directly by
Japanese labour law bars brokers from hiring workers and
dispatching them to work under the management of another company
in order to protect workers from having their wages skimmed and
to clarify who is responsible for their employment.
In a statement to Reuters, Tec said it employed Uechi, but
had not asked any of its workers to conceal the nature of their
work arrangements at Fukushima.
"It is not true that we have ever asked any of our employees
to submit a false report to Taisei," Tec said. "Our
subcontractors answer surveys about their employment status by
registering the names of the companies for which they work."
Tec declined to comment on Uechi's claims about
irregularities in his pay for the early part of his 6-month
stint working at the nuclear plant where he and others built
bolted water-storage tanks.
Storage tanks of that kind were found to be failing in
August and spilled almost 80,000 gallons of radioactive water.
Uechi and other workers said they had been rushed in the
construction and sometimes applied caulking on rainy days when
it would not seal properly.
Tec described Uechi's comments on the possibility for rain
causing the caulking in the tanks to fail as a "personal
opinion." The company said it had not engaged Uechi to work in
building the storage tanks.
Uechi said that early this year, after he had left
Fukushima, Tec Chairman Yasushi Ogawa visited Okinawa and handed
him 1 million yen ($9,800) in cash. Ogawa said this was for
"unpaid wages and compensation," Uechi said. In its response,
Tec said no such explanation had been made.
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and