2018 Government Negotiations Report

On November 5th, 2018, the Education Unions Group of Zenrokyo Zenkoku Ippan (National Union of General Workers), with guidance from NUGW Central and the cooperation of the office of Diet member Tomoko Abe, held negotiations at the Diet members' Office Building with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW).

The purposes of these negotiations were: to present our demands for appropriate solutions to several major issues we are facing; to inquire what the position of the authorities concerned was; to find out through discussion some ideas that might contribute to solving the problems; and in addition, to secure concrete routes for future useful exchanges of information with the relevant departments. 

The negotiations took two hours with no break, and were followed by various interchanges and communications with relevant departments.

The complete records add up to a considerable volume of information.

The following extracts are summaries of points that were thought to be important or beneficial, from both the main negotiations and the following discussions, in relation to each of the items listed in the written demands we submitted for negotiation.

1. Regarding The Outsourcing Of Teachers At Universities And Boards Of Education

 

Government:
MEXT carries out a “Survey of the Operational Situation of English Education” every year, and publicizes it on their homepage.

Union:
Doesn’t the memo put out by MEXT in 2009 say that “it may not be an outsourcing (gyomu ukeoi) contract”?

Government:
That doesn’t mean we’ve made a judgment of illegality.

Union:
Then why do you investigate the types of contracts?

The work that Boards of Education are putting out to tender, as we see ourselves in the workplace, is “team teaching” (note: in preparation for these negotiations, the unions involved cooperated to carry out a questionnaire survey of approximately 970 Boards of Education in the Kanto, Tokai, Kansai and Kyushu regions.

There were responses from about 200 Boards.

It was on the basis of this information that we negotiated).

If you have an example of outsourcing (gyomu ukeoi) contracts being put to use in a legal way, please tell us.

Government:
In universities, with an ukeoi contract, the university cannot give instructions, and delegating lessons totally to a company is not allowed.

But we haven’t said that ukeoi is not allowed.

Union:
We would like for you to search for specific examples of “legal ukeoi contracts” and contact us at a later date.

#####

Afterwards, the relevant departments in charge at MEXT contacted us with the following opinion and reference documents:

Regarding Boards of Education: opinion

Regarding universities: opinion and reference

Every one of these says that “teaching” cannot be done on outsourcing (ukeoi) contracts, and that only “demonstration of conversation” can be done legally.

This is a concrete principle that will be useful to us in future negotiations and activity.

2. Regarding Enrollment In Social Insurance (Shakai Hoken)

 

Union:
Among part-timers with more than one job, there are many who do not work 20 hours a week in any one place, but whose overall weekly work hours are longer.

Are you not ever going to rethink this situation, in which there are many people completely unable to enroll in Shakai Hoken, or consider some relief measure?

With Shigaku Kyosai (private-school employees’ mutual aid), before the new law, many people were eligible without regard to either “three-fourths” or “twenty hours”.

But since the law took effect, those who don’t have twenty hours at any one school are no longer able to enroll.

We would like consideration to be given to this the next time changes are made.

Since we understand the national government’s overall policy is to increase the number of people enrolled in Shakai Hoken, we would hope that the matter be considered from that angle as well.

Government:
Before the new law came into effect, there were differences between different offices.

With the new law, the eligibility standards became clear.

We believe that this is a necessary condition in order to give relief to a greater number of people.

About the September 2019 revision to the enrollment conditions, there are many things being debated in the MHLW’s Pension Division.

We would like to keep observing closely.

#####

A message reached us from the department in charge at the MHLW later on.

3. Regarding Violations Of The Labor Contract Act And Evasion Of The Law By Avoiding Switching To Unlimited-term Employment

 

Union:
Are conversions to unlimited-term proceeding smoothly in accordance with the spirit of the law?

Government:
Education and guidance has been carried out.

The labor-shortage aspect is a major factor, so the system for changing to unlimited-term is having some effect.

Union:
But on the ground, there are also many employers who do not want to make limited-term workers unlimited. 

When working rules are changed to make five years the limit on renewals and so forth, then unlimited-term conversion loses its meaning as a means toward employment stability.

If this sort of “5-year limit on renewals” is permitted with no restrictions, the system will be greatly hindered from having its intended effect.

Is there any debate on restricting this?


Government:
A labor contract itself is a contract between private individuals, governed by the civil law.

So it isn’t to say that one may not make this sort of contract, but changing working rules to add a five-year limit in the fifth year, when a worker is about to get the right to switch to unlimited-term employment, is considered undesirable by the MHWL.

We are carrying out the necessary education and guidance and explaining the law.

4. Regarding The Special Exception To Unlimited-term Conversion: The "10-year Rule"

 

Union:
This problem came up suddenly after the Labor Contract Act was amended to create the “5-year rule” for switching to an unlimited-term contract.

Both the Ninki law and the Research and Development law clearly indicate the three types of duties eligible for the special exception, and state that “agreement with the person concerned is necessary”.

But in reality, there are multiple cases of part-time lecturers being told suddenly that “you are covered by the special exception, so your switch to unlimited-term will not come for another five years”.

Is it possible to have “part-timers all covered by the exception”?


Government:
Whether the person in question is actually one of those the exception applies to or not will be for the courts to decide.

When signing a limited-term contract with someone covered by the exception, we encourage universities to clarify in writing to the person that the exception does apply, in order to ensure appropriate use of the system.

Explanation of labor conditions, such as when explaining to someone covered by this exception, is something we believe each university ought to do.

The exception does not apply to part-timers if they are on contracts not based on the Ninki system.

If they are not in one of the types of positions covered by the exception, then it does not apply.

At the very least, universities must let the person in question know which of the types of applicable position the job is, and must make clear which cases are based on which exception.

In the process of reaching agreement, we would like them to give full explanations. But in the end, it is a labor relations issue.

#####

Afterward, we received a supplementary explanation from the relevant department of the MHLW.

In regard to this question, we can say that we were able to confirm the following points which will be useful to us in further activity and negotiations.

  • When applying the exception, it must be made clear “which type of applicable position” the person is in.

On this point, an agreement must be reached between the university and a part-time lecturer.

5. Conclusion

In these negotiations, including the follow-up communications that came afterward, we won several things that will be useful in our future activities.

We also strengthened our information-exchange routes.

By sharing all of these, we hope to make progress both in the activities of each of our member unions and in our joint efforts.

Additional information