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GU Home > GU News > ECC News - 20 Jul 2012

ECC typhoon: Not safe for students, but safe for staff?

typhoon Workplace health and safety is a General Union priority. While most workplace accidents at language schools are minor, we as workers must not become complacent. We have the right to expect that our employers will do their utmost to protect our safety at work and while traveling to and from work.

The union has been successful in raising workplace health and safety issues at ECC. The union negotiated for each school to have a first aid kit. Evacuation procedures and evacuation maps have been repeatedly discussed at collective bargaining and union-management talks. While there has been improvement, Typhoon No 4 raised new concerns for the safety of teachers and staff.

Classes in the Kinki and Chubu districts were cancelled due to safety concerns for students. However, the safety of staff and teachers in the Kinki district was overlooked. Kinki district teachers and staff were ordered to work as usual, while Chubu district teachers were instructed to stay at home out of concern for their safety.

Union members were far from impressed and decided to survey their co-workers. The survey found that two-thirds of ECC teachers thought that ECC did not care about their safety. Other feedback from teachers and staff was extremely critical of management.

One teacher commented, "If it is not safe for the company to conduct business, i.e. hold classes, it follows that it is not safe for staff to attend the workplace. Regardless of the moral question of whose safety is more important, the company is wasting money by requiring staff to attend - in my case, an extra \1000 in transportation for me to attend work and do nothing. Not only is this sheer bloody-mindedness, it is economic foolishness. All the juku's in the same building, 3 including an ECC juku, were closed and the staff left before 5pm.

Ikoma school closed because the Department store told them too. My staff sat around waiting for word to go home and it didn't come until 8:30 - what was the point?"

Members will be discussing the issue at the next branch meeting and will decide on what course of action to take. One avenue being explored is applying for mediation at the Osaka Labour Relations Commission over workplace evacuation procedures.




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