Saturday 17 September 2011

End of an Era

The move of the factory has begun. We're moving to Rengo's old factory about 5 miles away. This is 'Silver Week' when public holidays clump together, second only to Golden Week in May, and the factory is closed for a week. We'll be working tomorrow (Sunday) and on Monday, Respect for the Aged Day (Keiroh no Hi  敬老の日)  then taking a holiday on Friday, the Autumn Equinox (Shuhbun no Hi  秋分の日), then back to work for the next weekend to test the machinery, opening again for business on Monday 26th.

The corrugator had its last day on Friday. The end of an era, kind of sad. Ojiichan (my father-in-law) put the corrugator in in 1966. That was at the beginning of Japan's economic boom when there was demand for big things, like fridges and kotatsu tables, which took a lot of cardboard to pack. It's no longer economic for us to buy paper in and make from scratch so at the new factory we'll be buying cardboard sheet from Rengo and making it up into cartons. We've sold the corrugator to a Rengo subsidiary and they're trying to sell it on. The corrugator itself is too old and narrow to be sold but some of the later additions may sell. We had someone from China and on Friday someone from Korea looking it over.

We had a lunch party today to say goodbye to the place and to 4 part-time women who will be leaving. I gave a little speech thanking everyone for working at the current place in Hoha-cho. That got a round of applause. Because of the disaster our new owners, Rengo, did not implement the voluntary redundancy scheme originally planned but those on short term contracts have not had their contracts renewed. So about five other people have left or are leaving.

The afternoon was spent packing boxes. And the machinery manufacturers moved in and started taking the machinery apart. We are leaving the corrugator and one other machine. The rest, eight big machines, are to be moved, along with all the other stuff. It's a big job.

Incidentally, since we will now be overstaffed, Rengo offered transfers to other companies within the group. We interviewed 13 of our staff under 35 to see if anyone was interested but sadly not one person took up the offer. Either because they had just built a house or because they are the oldest son and have to look after their parents. I thought some one might jump at the chance of getting away from the radiation but that didn't happen. Makes you realise how attached people are to this place, whatever the difficulties, and how unmobile most people are.

Tomorrow we put the stuff in the trucks and move. Another busy day.

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