Workers’ unions ask to discontinue civil safety patrols
The Government sponsored civilian Okinawa safety teams that were set up in June using staff from the Okinawa General Bureau and Ministry of Defense to patrol low-traffic areas in local communities close to US. Military installations, are facing headwinds from local workers’ unions.
The government initiated the project in June as a measure to prevent criminal activities after the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman by an American civilian working for a contractor on base.
Since its initiation in mid-June, the government has tried to expand the program to include personnel not only from the staff of Okinawa General Bureau or Okinawa Defense Bureau, but also from 15 other government organizations including Metrological Observatory, Customs Office and Labor Bureau. The Labor Bureau reportedly has asked for an exemption on the basis that it would affect their routine work.
The members for the patrol teams are chosen among managers, however in Okinawa Defense Bureau, general staff is also included.
According to the government plan, the Okinawa Prefecture General Bureau would recruit part time workers to go patrol the areas in about 100 cars. However, as it has turned out difficult to recruit enough part time workers for the project, the Bureau is proposing to scale down the project to about 50-car scale. Officials at the Okinawa Prefecture General Bureau say they are now asking each department about a possible range of people they could provide.
The Public Sector Workers’ Union in Okinawa says that this kind of work is not consistent with the scope of work in their union contract and their members can’t be forced to do it. So the union has sent a written request to discontinue the project to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The labor union branch of the Okinawa Metrological Observatory has also asked for discontinuing the program.