Union busting at American Apparel Japan

Flyer distributed by Tokyo Seibu Union during industrial action

Management at the Jiyugaoka American Apparel Outlet in Tokyo have unfairly dismissed an employee, and are closing the store in an alleged union busting exercise.

The dispute was triggered on August 20th when a part-time store-attendant was dismissed without legitimate reason. Management claimed that this action was in response to the employee's violation of work rules.

Tokyo Seibu Union, through its branch at the store, carried out collective bargaining to demand the attendant's job back. In response, American Apparel conceded that the dismissal was illegitimate and reinstated her.

However, they are using an unexplained store closure announced for the end of September to continue liquidating the union, the members allege. A similar union busting exercise by American Apparel Japan two years ago was successful. Though management have informally promised to transfer employees to other stores, many employees, including union members and the reinstated employee, have still not been given any details, and the company refused to justify the closure during collective bargaining.

On Saturday night, the union carried out a leafleting in front of Shibuya station to coincide with a promotional party being held at another American Apparel outlet. Activists from Tozen Union and Zengakuren came out in solidarity. The action aims to put pressure on the company ahead of next week's round of collective bargaining.

This incident follows on from previous stories about American Apparel's poor labour relations. Now, in addition to hiring and firing practices based on the appearance of women's bodies, it seems American Apparel has branched out into aggressive union busting.

Posted By

kot motrozkin
Sep 12 2012 02:23


  • "Now, in addition to hiring and firing practices based on the appearance of women's bodies, it seems American Apparel has branched out into aggressive union busting."

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Sep 12 2012 15:21

Thanks so much for this news, let us know if there are any updates!

Sep 12 2012 19:23

When is the collective bargaining taking place next week?

If they are looking to put pressure on the company some solidarity pickets in the UK/elsewhere might help

kot motrozkin
Sep 14 2012 14:12

UPDATE: Deadline for management to agree a date for collective bargaining passed yesterday, and as far as I know they have ignored it (I'll have to check with the branch-members though).

I also passed on the offer of solidarity action to the branch-members (note: I'm not personally involved in this dispute). If anyone else is interested in doing solidarity actions, in the event that the branch decides to call for them, can you PM me, and I'll pass on your details.

kot motrozkin
Oct 3 2012 04:41

UPDATE: As of now, management have proceeded to close down the store in question, in spite of union opposition. However, the union did succeed in re-instating the fired worker, and in winning all workers at the affected store the right to transfer to any other Tokyo American Apparel outlet of their choice. Seibu Union will be continuing to organise at American Apparel and keeping up pressure on management to improve working conditions.

Oct 3 2012 08:25

That's great news about the fired worker getting their job back, and that the other workers could all transfer to other outlets.

Thanks for posting the story and keeping us informed. Please do let us know more about what is happening in Japan in the future!