BWI demands labor inspection for Tokyo Olympic sites

07 October 2019 08:12

The global union federation BWI has today released a second report highlighting how Tokyo 2020 construction workers lives are still at risk, while rampant subcontracting is putting downward pressure on workers’ wages.

“With construction deadlines looming, a severe worker shortage and record high temperatures, we are concerned that the workers building Tokyo 2020 are still being put in danger,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson.

“These problems are compounded by insufficient facilities including elevators, toilets and parking making workers’ lives unnecessarily onerous and uncomfortable.”

The information comes from interviews with workers undertaken in August and September, and follow the May 2019 release of a report by the BWI and Japanese construction union Zenkensoren into working conditions on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic construction projects.

The workers’ testimonies follow the 8 August fatality of a construction worker engaged on the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre (to be used for a Tokyo 2020 media centre). The worker died from heat stroke, as a record-breaking heat wave affected large parts of Japan.

These health risks are also being exacerbated by the growing presence of migrant workers onsite without a corresponding increase in multi-lingual safety messages that workers can easily understand.

The report also sheds light on the system of multi-layer subcontracting and other mechanisms that is keeping workers’ wages down.

“Tokyo 2020 has, like all mega sporting events, gone well over budget but despite the severe labour shortage workers’ wages don’t seem to be rising in line with market demand,” continued Yuson.

“This is because of elaborate and opaque chains of subcontracting that suppress wage growth and leave workers unable to improve their working conditions.”

“We are concerned that restrictions on the flow of information, such as a ban on taking photos on Tokyo 2020 construction sites are preventing workers from effectively being able to file complaints in the Tokyo 2020 Grievance Mechanism.”

“With less than a year to go before the Opening Ceremonies, it is important that there are mechanisms in place to ensure workers’ safety and improve working conditions. We have urged the Tokyo 2020 organizers to work with BWI so that there is a positive long-lasting legacy for all those involved including construction workers.”

For further information, contact: Jin Sook Lee:  +41 79 962 4793