TEPCO admits that hiring workers at plant not transparent because of industry-wide hierarchical contract system

TEPCO has admitted that hundreds of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been employed through a murky hiring system, confirming the results of recent surveys of contract workers at Fukushima Daiichi.  Around 25% of the respondents to the surveys said they had never been notified of their radiation exposure details.

The nuclear industry around the world is facing serious worker shortages, and this is no exception in Japan, where securing a workforce for the disaster response operations is vital to ensuring that the 40 year plans for decommissioning do not fall catastrophically short.  The labor ministry has already ordered TEPCO to enhance their monitoring of subcontractors at the plant.

The Japanese utility’s President Naomi Hirose attributed the hiring problem to high worker turnover at the highly contaminated worksite, adding that the problem became prevalent as the company desperately tried to recruit workers willing to take jobs with high risks of radiation exposure.

“Decommissioning is a lengthy process of 30 to 40 years, which is long enough for a fresh employee to reach retirement age,” he said. “Our staffing is sufficient in the short term, but we may face a difficulty in the long run.”

Hirose said TEPCO is working to fix the hiring problem, which he attributed to an industry-wide hierarchical contract system.  He said that such deep-rooted industry practices cannot be changed overnight, and that a complete overhaul would be difficult.

“Ideally, it would be best if we reform the contract hiring system and start from there, but it will be extremely time-consuming,” Hirose said. “It’s a difficult task we cannot do on our own. It will take heavy-duty work. It involves history and business ties, and could even hurt the industry.”

Source: ABC News

Source: Asahi Shimbun

 

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