Who can join?
The majority of our members are teachers and staff at conversation schools,
public and private schools, and universities. However, our union is open to any
full time or part time worker regardless of nationality. You probably have
friends or coworkers who are already General Union members; ask around.
How can the
union help me and my coworkers?
We help by offering advice and concrete support on how you and your coworkers
can form and run a union branch at your school or company. The size and
determination of your branch are both important considerations in deciding what
improvements your branch can achieve. When you and your coworkers are ready,
experienced Japanese and foreign members of the General Union will assist you in
negotiating collective agreements with your company. Our experience shows that
when people join together, they can win significant improvements.
I would like to express a
sincere thanks to you for not only achieving a satisfactory resolution to
a wrong doing unto me, but also for your support...
A. Member (2003)
Could I lose my
job if I join?
Most companies are reluctant to pick a fight with a strong union. Since the
General Union was formed, we have had a small number of cases involving the
firing or non-renewal of union members - almost all of which have resulted in
reinstatement or satisfactory settlements. On the other hand, we regularly
receive calls from non-union members who have been fired or not renewed. An
employer can fire a non-union worker for complaining about their pay and
conditions. On the other hand, a union member whose union raises the same issues
in negotiations is protected by Article 28 of the Constitution and Article 7 of
the Trade Union Law.
How much are
Union dues are relatively inexpensive; 36,000 yen per year. This equates to 1%
of base salary for a member earning 300,000 yen per month. How does this compare
to other unions? The national average has remained at 1.75% of base salary for
the last 30 years (Source; Japan Institute of Labour). In cases of special
circumstances such as financial hardship, the union can waive or reduce the
dues. Dues, once paid, are non-refundable. Your dues pay for the union office,
telephones, meetings, transportation, and general operating expenses.
Your dues also cover our affiliation fees to both our national union (National
Union of General Workers) and our union federation (National Trade Union
Council). Our membership in these two organizations ensures that we have contact
and support not only from other foreign union members in Japan, but also
Japanese workers from other unions.
Why should I
join the union?
Different people join the union for different reasons. Some join in the hope of
improving working conditions; others to prevent a decline in their current
conditions. Many join simply because they believe in unions and agree with the
work that we do. Whatever your reason we suggest that you do join and also
encourage your coworkers to join.
How do I join?
Joining is simple. Either you can click on the joining link or if you prefer we
can set up a time to talk about the union and then you can decide if you want to
Thanks for nothing, in the
nicest possible way. Fortunately, I have not needed the union, but it is
nice to know that it is there for those who do need it. For that reason I
believe in unions and have supported the GU. It's time for me to pull the
pin on Japan; hence it's time for me to resign my membership of the Union.
I have paid up until December 2003; please keep the extra fees as a
At some companies, we set up branches in order to deal with a specific
workplace, but we do encourage all members to help other union members
regardless of their workplace or the industry in which they belong. Our union is
strong because we represent workers in a whole industry rather than in just one
workplace. Your union membership is valid even if you work at more than one
company, and remains valid upon changing jobs.
Making it better
The General Union has a reputation for winning. We've won legally entitled paid
holidays, the end of contract limits, unfair dismissals, payment of unpaid wages
and overtime, and pay increases. If you're interested in making your workplace a
better place for teachers, staff, and students then you should call the union
and find out more about how to make this possible.
What is a fair
What is fair and reasonable isn't simply a matter of employers following the
minimum standards set in the law. The law does not require an employer to give
pay rises and the minimum wage in Japan is less than 700 yen an hour. On the
other hand, without you and your coworkers, your company can't run. The least
that you should expect is a fair share and a say in what happens at your
workplace. The General Union considers all of the following to be both fair and
* Regular pay rises
* A work environment that
promotes professional development and quality education
* Paid National Holidays
* At least 10 flexible paid
vacation days per year
Contracts without artificial one year term limits
* No arbitrary/unfair
dismissals or non-renewals
* Overtime pay if you work
more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week
* No discrimination based on
nationality, race, language, gender, age, or sexual orientation
* Paid maternity and
* Regular payment of wages
in full on a set date
* Enrollment in Unemployment