News

Shoin Gakuen: How Will They "Explain" Their Illegal Dismissals In Court?

blind justice osaka shoinA General Union member who held a job as a non-regular teacher of English at Shoin High School (operated by Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation) was dismissed from the job, with no reason given, on March 31st (2018) - just a day before gaining the right to switch to an unlimited-term contract.

On June 25th (2018), our union member filed suit against Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation, claiming the dismissal was invalid, and held a press conference together with the General Union. 

The scene was broadcast by several major media outlets in the Kansai region (MBSAsahiKTVYTV).

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It's Not Too Late To Make Sure You Don't Lose Your Pension

Back in February of 2017, a retiring, long-term union member at Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko realised that - even though he qualified for a pension - he would lose nine years of potential pension contributions.

The union won health and pension insurance rights back in 2000, but his first nine years were lost...

Or so he thought. 

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Shoin Gakuen Makes The News

osaka newsEven though the General Union's name wasn't mentioned, our members' illegal dismissal due to the implementation of the Labor Contract Law amendements (aka the "five year rule") has made the news.

This coming Monday, June 25th, we will be holding a press conference as we lodge the court case against Educational Corporation Shoin Gakuen, and we expect television cameras to be there.

Read the Japanese article below (click for full size): 

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Don't Beg For A Good Evaluation - Join The Union And Negotiate Your Pay!

For years, the General Union has argued that pay increases based on evaluations is a rigged system. After all, how could the system not be rigged against the employee when the people doing the evaluating (i.e. the company) are the very same people who also have to pay the increase you get?

Berlitz's latest memo is a prime example of this in action: Berlitz has an evaluation system in place - but this year, because of their financial situation, they want to change it to a much worse system.

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Okinawa Christian University To Withdraw Dismissals Of Non-Regular Teaching Staff

Through collective-bargaining with the Okinawa Christian University (and Okinawa Christian Junior College), the "Union For Part-Time Teachers in Universities" in Okinawa recently won the removal of an article in the working regulations for non-regular teachers.

That article set a five-year employment limit in the contract terms for part-time teachers.

According to the Okinawa Times, the switch to permanent contracts will now be possible (in compliance with the law). 

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Is Schedule Flexibility At Risk At Gaba?

Instructors at Gaba have always been able to submit their schedules for times they would like to work and have them approved and made available for clients to book without impediments. This flexibility is one of the main reasons why many people choose to work at Gaba.

This seems to have changed since the implementation of the new booking system at the beginning of 2018.

Schedules have been rejected and instructors are now being asked or directed to submit schedules for times they do not wish to work. 

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The Cost Of Doing Business With Dispatch Companies - Fukuoka Edition

One of the most pervasive myths that the General Union often finds itself attempting to dispel is the idea that it's cheaper for a Board of Education to outsource its desire for ALTs to a dispatch companies than it is to directly hire people itself.

Yet, time and time again, we've seen that dispatch companies are in fact much more expensive than people would have you believe, often in the region of ¥350,000 to ¥400,000 (if not more) per month, per subcontracted ALT. 

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Fukuoka BoE Fires 120 ALTs; Goes To Dispatch

Some of you will have heard that the Fukuoka Board of Education has fired 120 ALTs (or "Guest Teachers"). The 120 includes both Japanese nationals fluent in English, along with qualified and unqualified teachers.

While some of these teachers are students, for many it is their main source of income. Some "Guest Teachers" have been working with the Board of Education for over 10 years.

Below is a translation of an article from the Nishinippon Shimbun.

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Problems Solved At Kansai Gaidai

The General Union branch at Kansai Gaidai university has been busy dealing with a number of issues arising from the closure of the university’s Hotani campus and the opening of a new campus at Gotenyama.

Visiting professors at the university have always received on-campus apartments, which is specified in their contracts.

Teachers moving from the Hotani campus to the Nakamiya and Gotenyama campuses were told that there was not sufficient accommodation to house them in the apartments at the nearby Nakamiya campus.

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Nichibei Eigo Gakuin Teachers & Okayama Bus Drivers Have A Lot In Common

So what do Nichibei Eigo Gakuin teachers and Okayama bus drivers have in common? Thinking outside the box!

When we hear of industrial action we usually think of strikes. In reality though, it can take many different forms, and be just as effective.

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AEON's Trickery And The "20,000 Yen Fixed Overtime Allowance"

AEON teachers work some of the longest hours in all of the main eikaiwa schools in Japan.

In general, many of the teachers who we speak to don't mind these hours as they are paid a little more than at other schools and often get to do a variety of different jobs throughout the day.

At least, this was the case until the recent announcement by AEON that teachers will have their base salaries cut by 15,000 yen per month.

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General Union And NUGW Tokyo Nambu Enter Joint Negotiations At British Council

Here's a follow up on our recent successes at ECC where the General Union joined forces with members at our sister union NUGW Tokyo Roso.

Union members at British Council are locking arms across unions to win improvements in their working conditions.

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Osaka Shoin: Harassment By Camera?

Along with all the other issues that the General Union is currently dealing with, here's a quick recap to remind people of the story with Osaka Shoin Women's University up until now.

The government introduced a new law: if you've worked for five years, the school has to give you a contract with no end date. In response, Osaka Shoin freaks out and introduces a five-year employment limit just to avoid the law

This is illegal.

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Doshisha Checkoff Begins

The new school year has begun, and so has our new checkoff agreement at Doshisha Kori. From here on in Japanese and foreign members alike at Doshisha will be able to have their dues directly deducted from their salary. In the coming months we will be rolling the system out at other Doshisha schools.

Why is dues checkoff important?

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ECC Strike Postponed


ECC STRIKE POSTPONED


ECC branch members are currently considering an offer from the company.


Mission Impossible - The New School Year [OP-ED]

If you choose to accept this mission you will teach six 1st grade JHS classes.

The mission is to find the five other people all teaching this course.

To make it that more difficult, we will not give you any of the names of the people you are working with. 

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Gaba: Instructors Views On The New Schedule Submission System

The General Union has sent correspondence to Gaba about the new schedule submission system, and will hear back on April 16th.

In the meantime, here are a few of the many responses we received from instructors to our anonymous instructor survey:

"Gaba is still enticing new instructors to join the company with the promise of flexibility in their schedules, which is no longer the case."

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Injuries And Compensation At Gaba

Below, you'll see a Gaba lesson booth as it was on March 11th, 2011. It is now seven years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Several Kanto area learning studios were damaged that day.

Instructors who were at Gaba during and after the disaster will no doubt remember the disorganization at the company, the lack of preparation, and the fact the company decided it was a good idea to open on March 12th.

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Gaba Instructor Schedule Survey

Instructors at Gaba have been expressing discontent with the recent changes to Gaba's scheduling system.

Many Instructors work at Gaba largely because of the flexibility it offers, but that flexibility has been dramatically decreased in recent months.

A large number of instructors have spoken to the union expressing their view that flexibility is decreasing.

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Latest Nova Court Update - February 20

Here is the latest update on our court case against Nova and their illegal "independent contractor" system. Read more about the case lodged in 2016.

Tuesday, February 20, was a full day of testimony with Mike testifying on the union's side and a foreign manager testifying on behalf of Nova.

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Osaka Gaigo's "Argument"

Back in early 2017, the General Union helped one of our members sue Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko over financial losses due to their failure to enroll him in Health & Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).

Although the case is currently ongoing, we thought you might be interested in what "The Gaigo" is claiming.

You can read it all in the pdf link, but here are some choice highlights...

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Harassed By A Student At Gaba?

As we previously mentioned ("Gaba Corporation Meets General Union's Demands - Client Blocking Procedure Published"), Gaba has recently published its (2013) guidelines on blocking clients who have been involved in harassment.

Although we already provided these instructions in our previous article, they bear repeating because the guidelines are not easy to find without a determined search of the intranet, or without someone physically being able to show them to another instructor in person.

If you work for Gaba and need to locate these guidelines, here's what to do.

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Ritsumeikan University Lands Itself In Trouble

In Japan, companies and schools must follow certain procedures for any overtime to be allowed under the law.

The Labour Standards Law requires that a workers’ representative, elected by a majority of ALL workers (not just those who vote), sign off on an overtime agreement. This means that the elected representative then has the power to permit (or refuse) overtime to take place. Without the proper election of this workers’ representative, any work over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week is NOT allowed.

In reality, the representative is often a stooge put forward by management to meet legal requirements - as what worker would have the audacity to say no and block all overtime?

Not only would the representative be in strife with their employer, but most likely also with coworkers who rely upon a certain amount of paid overtime to make ends meet.

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Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)

When you claim you don't have money, the last thing you want to do is involve yourself in frivolous law suits when there are many more expensive problems to settle.

Not Osaka Gaigo, though!

They claim poverty while dealing with two (and maybe more!) lawsuits.

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Do The "Six Minute NOVA Hustle"

In case you're wondering, this "hustle" isn't a kind of dance routine cooked up as a crazy PR stunt. No, it's very much the other kind of hustle. The bad kind.

Be that as it may, you probably know all of the moves already.

The NOVA hustle goes like this:

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ECC Members Prepare For Action

It seems that the entire language industry has gone into merger mania! KDDI will buy AEON; G Academy will be merged into NOVA Holdings; GABA will merge with their parent company's COCO Juku; and Berlitz is already a Bennesse company. ECC appears to be the last family-owned national chain.

You may think that this news means that we need to back off from ECC and give them some room so they can change to meet the challenges of the new industry - but it's exactly because ECC needs to change that our fight is more necessary than ever.

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Gaba Corporation Meets General Union's Demands - Client Blocking Procedure Published

sexual harassmentThe General Union has been raising the issue of harassment of instructors by clients with Gaba since 2013, and this has not been an easy process.

Instructors reported a number of cases of sexual harassment by clients, and how they were dealt with poorly by Gaba management.

There was a desire to ignore harassment and to encourage instructors to put up with it.

As recent news stories have shown, this is unfortunately common in many organizations all around the world - particularly when there is money to be made.

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Gaba And Coco Juku To Merge

Earlier this month, the Nikkei newspaper ran an article about an upcoming merger between Gaba and Coco Juku. These are both English conversation schools owned by Nichii Gakkan. Gaba was purchased by Nichii Gakkan in 2011, and Coco Juku was founded in 2012. Although both currently teach English to children and adults alike, Coco Juku has a focus on group lessons.

According to the Nikkei article, from next year, the companies will shift their focus: Gaba will focus on teaching lessons to adults, while Coco Juku will focus on lessons for children.

It remains to be seen what this will mean for instructors at either of the conversation schools.

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Sexual Harassment From Clients At Gaba Corporation

Sexual harassment from Gaba clients is an issue that the General Union has been concerned about for years now. We have raised it with Gaba both in negotiations and correspondence.

The problem has even received notice in the press, with several articles appearing in the Japan Times.

A major problem is that Gaba does not provide clear training for instructors on this issue.

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Kindai - Response To The General Union

Here is Kindai's response to our questions regarding compliance with the new Labor Contract Renewal Act and demands relating to demolition and rebuilding.

The good news is that we have secured lockers and a teacher's lounge to replace those lost in Building 11, and their answer that "part-time teachers do not have a research element to their job" means they can request unlimited term contracts after working five years from April 1st, 2013.

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