No break for Goldman Sachs
Japan – It seems like investment firm Goldman Sachs can’t catch a break as another round of complaints from employees hit the public.
Following Greg Smith’s high profile exit from Goldman Sachs two weeks ago, another former employee has stepped up to shed light on the working conditions in Japan, and how he is now setting up a union so other dismissed staff can demand their jobs back.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, the employee, who wore a mask and used the pseudonym Adam Lee, said, “I would just like to be treated as human.”
Lee said Goldman Sachs hired him fresh out of college, but he was laid off in August. The New York Times reported Lee claimed Goldman Sachs representatives pressured him in “combative meetings” into taking a six-month severance package even though the sum was not enough.
But while some lawyers are calling Lee’s efforts a “rare instance of organised labour in finance’s highest echelons”, others are not as convinced.
“Personally, this labour union makes me laugh,” Kunsen Gen, a managing partner at the Minato International Group, a Tokyo-based legal practice which handles labour disputes, told NYT. “They should have known from the start that layoffs are a risk in the cutthroat world of finance.”
However, because Japan has one of the more protective labour laws in the world, there may be a sliver of hope for these disgruntled employees.
One Japanese law requires all employees – even underperforming ones – to be given sufficient time to improve and learn before the company can dismiss them. When it comes to layoffs, a company must prove it is on the verge of bankruptcy, and that cutbacks are necessary to stay afloat.
“It would be hard to argue that Goldman Sachs is in danger of going bust,” Gen said.
“We are currently in discussions with the National Union of General Workers over a termination dispute,” a Goldman Sachs spokesman said.
“We are negotiating in good faith.”
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