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Tokyo story: Times get even harder for Ginza hostesses

Nikkan Gendai Nov. 13
Nikkan Gendai Nov. 13
There’s flaky and then there’s outright weird. With the prolonged business recession, Tokyo’s mecca of glitzy nightlife, Ginza, looks like a ghost town these days.

Not surprisingly, reports Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 13), the hard times have made life all the more difficult for the hostesses who toil in Ginza’s clubs, and more than a few have found themselves facing financial failure.

At the end of 2009, cabaret and club workers joined forces to form the Kyabakura Union, an affiliate of the Freelance Worker’s Union, which has undertaken negotiations on behalf of 38 former shop employees.

In one such case, three former hostesses at a pricey Ginza club went so far as to sue their former employer in the Tokyo District Court, demanding 4.3 million yen in unpaid back wages.

“I didn’t receive any salary for the first seven months of this year,” one of the litigants told the tabloid.

According to the terms of the hostess’ employment when she was recruited last December, she was to receive 46,000 yen for working three and a half hours per evening (slightly more than 13,000 yen per hour). But hostesses who fail to meet quotas or whose customers are in arrears on their bills are subjected to fines or are otherwise penalized.

What’s more, the shops typically deduct certain nominal expenditures from hostesses’ wages, such as the cost for toilet paper and bathroom deodorizer, which can add up to as much as 30,000 yen per month.

To make matters worse, business this year has been terrible.

“The shop paid me no salary at all since January,” one hostess told Nikkan Gendai. “They claimed that unless I paid them the money I owed — for those fines, penalties and so on — they weren’t obliged to pay my salary. Even for Ginza, this treatment is exceptionally severe.”

The hostess went on to relate a tale of woe, which culminated in eviction from her residence for failure to pay rent.

The attorney representing the club lambasted the hostesses for “one-sidedly bad-mouthing the club at a press conference.”

According to a hostess union representative, to escape their financial liabilities quite a few Ginza establishments are engaging in such underhanded stratagems as shutting the shop and filing for bankruptcy, after which they re-open under a different name.

“In such cases, the girls who previously worked there are just discarded,” the rep says. (K.S.)

Source: “Ginza hosutesu zankoku monogatari,” Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 13, page 5)