Japan: 900 workers start strike at Sogo & Seibu Co. store

japan 900 workers start strike at sogo & seibu co. store

japan 900 workers start strike at sogo & seibu co. store

Workers at the flagship Sogo & Seibu Co. store in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, went on strike on Thursday to protest the planned sale of their company Sogo & Seibu, a Japanese retail company and a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Co., to Fortress Investment Group, an American investment management firm. 

Around 900 workers at the flagship Seibu store in Ikebukuro, a district in Toshima, Tokyo, Japan, started the strike, saying that the negotiations to sell Sogo & Seibu must proceed carefully. 

Sogo & Seibu Strike

On Thursday morning, around 15 union members gathered outside the flagship Sogo & Seibu Co. store in Ikebukuro. Union members handed out flyers to passersby, urging them to support workers. 

Employees of the Seibu store protested in front of the store’s gate despite the summer heat. One man with a megaphone said that the planned sale can affect thousands of workers employed by the chain. 

The workers reportedly said that they want job guarantees from Yodobashi Holdings, Fortress’s partner in the deal. They fear that the planned sale may replace many workers at the store. 

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Labour groups from Takashimaya, a Japanese multinational department store chain; Isetan Mitsukoshi, Japan’s largest department store group; Daimaru Matsuzakaya and and Hankyu Hanshin gave support to Sogo & Seibu workers. 

A woman who shopped from the store said that she was sympathetic to workers. She said, “I don’t know whether their voices will be heard, but I think it’s important that they act.”

Statement from Seven & I Holdings Co.

Seven & I Holdings Co. reportedly apologized for the strike. Seven & I Holdings Co., a Japanese diversified retail holdings, said its subsidiary Sogo & Seibu Co. would hold talks with the union to resolve the matter. 

Seven & I Holdings Co., operator of the world’s largest convenience store chain, agreed to sell Sogo & Seibu to U.S. fund Fortress Investment Group in 2022. However, the deal was put on hold because it received flak from workers.

Despite the strike, Seven & I Holdings Co. aims to sell Sogo & Seibu to U.S. fund Fortress Investment Group on September 1, as reported by Reuters. The Japanese retailer reportedly requested cooperation from Fortress for the future of the workers.

According to reports and knowledgeable sources, Seven & I Holdings Co. and Fortress Investment Group would discuss the employment of the workers and the potential of transferring employees within Sogo & Seibu to another unit.

Seven & I Holdings Co has some 300 billion yen in debt. The deal is important for the Japan-based retailer.

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