It’s a matter of dignity – Opinion Piece

I work at one of the "better" high schools. It is that is basically a feeder school to a few universities in the Kansai region. As a part-timer, or hijokin in Japanese, I am treated well enough. I'm even enrolled in health and pension insurance.

All that changed this week as I attempted to prepare for the new semester. With a rebuilding program almost completed, we moved into new classrooms and offices.

They say change is a good thing, well, I'm not so sure.

First things to go were the desks. Not for the full-timers of course, just us part-timers. We are left to scramble for bench space that cramps three people into a space meant for two.

No drawers? Don't worry! You don't need a permanent place to put a pen, a pair of scissors. Just go with the flow.

I guess that I should just be grateful that I have been granted a locker for my teaching effects. Pity it won’t even hold a whole grade's homework. And too bad that as a 50 year old I must get down on my hands and knees to access the locker. Just go with the flow.

What do you mean my locker for coats etc. is no longer mine? Oh…. They’re for the full-timers? My mistake. Just go with the bloody flow.

Oh, and I’m no longer able to use my private laptop at school anymore? How about the fact that I bought it because the school only provided two ten-year-old computers for use amongst 20 people, and that they couldn’t handle the most basic tasks without freezing? Oh, they are buying four new ones? I guess the lineup to use them won’t be so bad.

Go with the flow? Not anymore. I am no longer willing to be treated without dignity. I am no longer willing to be treated as a second class citizen. I have a full teaching schedule and I am in charge of a number of courses. There is no textbook. I must prepare and plan the curriculum. I do the work. In fact, I spent six hours preparing two lessons today. I am a professional and I expect to be treated as such.

I had mistakenly thought I didn’t need to be an open union member in my workplace. That has changed and I have today officially declared my union membership to my employer. And in the coming weeks, my coworkers and I will be demanding that part-timers be treated with dignity.

 

The union is running a series of opinion pieces and is calling for submissions from members. We are looking for opinion pieces that relate to workplace issues. We are hoping to generate discussion within the union and the wider foreign community. Submissions should be around 500 words and should be submitted in a Word document to union"at"generalunion.org

 


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