Train Driver Deducted Wages For 1 Minute Delay Seeking Damages

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A Japanese train company is facing a lawsuit from an employee after it had deducted roughly 32c from his wages. The driver, who had been docked ¥43 for a minute-long delay, is now seeking ¥2.2 million – roughly €16,955.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun Daily, West Japan Railway (JR West) fined the driver for failing the country’s famously punctual rail system. A ‘work mix up’ had caused the driver to be delayed in June of 2020, leading him to file the suit. The hefty asking price is said to be seeking damages for the train driver for mental anguish caused by the whole ordeal.

The incident occurred after the driver had been scheduled to move an empty train to a garage in Okayama station. However, the driver arrived at the wrong platform, causing a delay to the driver changeover which led the train to depart late. The knock-on effect saw the train leave the station and arrive at its intended destination, one minute later than scheduled.

West Japan Railway believes it was appropriate to dock the driver’s wages as no labour was performed during the debacle. A spokesperson for the train company confirmed the lawsuit to reporters, although declined to comment as “the suit is still pending”.

The reason why this became a lawsuit is differences over how to interpret” the cause of the delay, they said. The spokesperson reiterated the company’s policy and said it had applied its “no work, no pay” rule when docking the train driver’s wages.

The man, who has not been named, argues that a minor human error is the reason for his delay, adding that he should not have been considered absent from work. The train network in Japan is famously efficient and punctual, leading countries around the world by example. In 2017, a local railway operator made international headlines after issuing a deep apology for the “tremendous nuisance” caused by the departure of a train 20 seconds early.