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Japan – Part-time workers tarnishing disciplined employee image

18 September 2013

Part-time workers in Japan have been posting images on Twitter of pranks carried out while at work, tarnishing the enduring image of the strict and disciplined Japanese worker. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), part-time workers have been stuffing out cigarettes in sushi, wearing masks made of pizza dough, and washing their feet in dishwashers then posting images online.

This latest trend has been called ‘baito tero’ or part-time job terrorism. All known cases so far have involved workers at fast-food restaurants and convenience shops, sparking conjecture that the underlying cause for the misbehaviour is the employees’ frustration with low-paying part-time jobs.

While many Twitter followers are delighted by the antics of the part-time job terrorists, employers have taken action to curb the irresponsible and, at times, unhygienic antics.

A chain restaurant, Bronco Billy Co, closed a Tokyo branch in early August to retrain staff after an employee uploaded a picture of himself sitting inside a refrigerator while at work. One week after closing, however, the company decided to permanently close the branch out of consideration for its responsibility to ‘provide a comfortable moment for the customer through delicious food, good service, and a clean and fun restaurant’.  

Another example provided by the WSJ, is a Lawson convenience shop where an employee climbed into the refrigerator. The company has since removed all ice cream products, dismantled the ice cream case, and temporarily closed the shop. The company released a statement: “All our employees and affiliate stores will work as one to regain customers trust so that this kind of thing never happens ever again.” 

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