Sogo & Seibu department store labor union to go on rare strike in Tokyo

by Aug 30, 2023Featured Article, News

A labor union representing workers at Japanese department stores operated by Sogo & Seibu Co said Wednesday that members would go on strike at one of the stores in Tokyo to protest a buyout deal by a U.S.-based investment fund.

In the first such action by a major department store union in 61 years, around 900 union members at the Seibu Ikebukuro store will refrain from working on Thursday after negotiations with parent Seven & i Holdings Co fell through, the labor union said.

The Japanese retail giant plans to approve the sale of the department store chain to Fortress Investment Group LLC at its board meeting Thursday, sources close to the matter said.

The store in Ikebukuro will be closed for the day, according to Sogo & Seibu.

Union members had demanded that the parent company clearly state it would not sell the department store unit to the U.S. fund on Friday as a condition for calling off the strike.

Following the announcement of the buyout deal last November, the union expressed strong opposition after a plan was revealed to make electrical appliances retailer Yodobashi Camera Co a major tenant of the Seibu Ikebukuro store, raising concern that current tenants would be forced out.

The labor union notified management on Monday that it would take industrial action after balloting its members in July.

According to industrial union UA Zensen, a major department store union in Japan last went on strike in 1962.