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Fukushima workers sue Tepco over unpaid hazard wages
BBC News - September 3, 2014
The four men are demanding about 65m yen (#375,000; $620,000) in extra pay. They claim the compensation for removing contaminated debris and patrolling the plant has been inadequate given the risks involved.
It is the first time Tepco has faced legal action from Fukushima workers over pay and working conditions. The lawsuit was filed by two current and two former workers at Fukushima, with ages ranging from their 30s to their 60s. The Japanese utility company had no immediate comment.
"My health may be harmed some day," one of the workers reportedly told Japanese broadcaster NHK. "I believe there are many people who can't speak out about this kind of problem".
"I may get fired or may be given no further work. But I hope people will take this as an opportunity to speak up and get paid," he said.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went into meltdown after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 knocked out reactor cooling systems at the plant. Subsequent radiation leaks made the surrounding areas around the plant unfit for use.
Tens of thousands had to leave their homes and businesses because of radioactive contamination, with the majority still unable to return home.
The facility is operated by Tepco, which has spent billions of dollars on the clean-up and decommissioning of the plant.
About 6,000 people have been working at the plant daily over the last two months, and the lawsuit is demanding that they either be paid directly by Tepco or the government.
However, many are employed by contractors and subcontractors. The lawsuit claims that the subcontractors profit from the funds allocated for the decommissioning at the expense of worker wages.
The lawyer co-ordinating the case on behalf of the Fukushima workers said at least two more people were expected to join the lawsuit.