Train Driver Sues for $20K After Wages Cut by 49 Cents

Japanese firm docked his pay after he caused train to arrive at depot 1 minute late
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2021 8:57 AM CST
Train Driver Sues After His Wages Are Cut by 49 Cents
A JR West train in western Honshu island.   (Wikipedia/Mitsuki-2368)

After a train driver in Japan caused a one-minute delay in June 2020, he had 55 cents deducted from his wages, which was reduced to 49 cents after he took the matter to a government office that deals with labor disputes. He has now upped the stakes by filing a lawsuit for almost $20,000. He is seeking damages for "mental anguish" as well as the return of the 49 cents, Japan Today reports. The West Japan Railway Co., also known as JR West, docked the man's wages after he waited at the wrong platform for an empty train he was scheduled to drive back to a depot. The company said the delayed transfer between drivers caused the train to arrive at the depot a minute behind schedule.

The driver refused to accept the deduction, arguing that no disruption was caused to passengers or train timetables, the BBC reports. The railway firm insisted that no work was performed during the delayed transfer, so the driver should have his pay reduced by 56 yen under the "no work, no pay" principle. It is a point of pride in Japan that trains are almost never late, but public opinion online was firmly on the driver's side. "Everyone makes mistakes—wage cuts shouldn’t be made unless it’s a big deal," one critic said, per Japan Today. "If this becomes normal, wage cuts due to mistakes will spread to other industries as well." (This train driver got in trouble after an unauthorized bathroom break.)

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