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Culture of fear: Report alleges low pay and overwork for laborers at Tokyo Olympics sites

… The report from Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), titled “The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics,” is based on interviews with construction workers and documents how low pay, overwork and poor access to grievance mechanisms are creating a “culture of fear” among crews working on Olympic projects. BWI… is seeking an end to “dangerous patterns of overwork,” citing the example of construction workers at the National Stadium and Olympic Village who reported being required to work up to 26 and 28 consecutive days, respectively…

Among the findings, one case at the National Stadium was highlighted for being particularly grievous. The report cited the rejection of a complaint about a worker’s injury because it had been brought by a union and not the injured party. The alleged rejection “constitutes a serious violation of the right to be represented, a core component of the right to freedom of association,” the federation said in the report.

The BWI sent a delegation to Tokyo last September to meet with key decision-makers and investigate the “conditions faced by workers in the construction of Tokyo 2020 Olympic facilities.” Their findings were further substantiated by interviews conducted in February by BWI and its Japanese affiliate, the National Federation of Construction Workers’ Unions, with workers involved in the construction of the National Stadium and Olympic Village.

The report was sent… to the organizing committee of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japan Sports Council — groups responsible for the construction of Olympic facilities. The 2020 organizing committee said Tuesday evening the report is “under review.”… [“The Tokyo Organising Committee... is now reviewing the contents of the report and will cooperate with related stakeholders to look into the alleged issue”]

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