At the end of a family holiday we reached Narita airport in Tokyo looking forward to a trip home under the care of JAL, a reputable airline. Or so we thought. But that was before we met a group of sacked JAL employees distributing leaflets in front of the departure gate.
JAL went bankrupt in 2010. But Japan’s corporate support system protected JAL and helped it to reorganise; staff were persuaded to take pay cuts, and pension payouts were halved. JAL was able to make a profit in the same year it had gone bankrupt. Despite this, on New Year’s eve, 2011, JAL sacked 165 people. A year later, its profit margin reached 17%. Of the cabin crew fired, a large majority were union members. And having fired 165 people in 2010, JAL then hired 940 new employees in 2012.