October 16 is almost here - Interac ALTs should lodge their concerns

As the General Union has reported, Interac Co. Ltd has announced an "absorption-type split agreement" that - as of January 1st, 2016 - will see it split into six subsidiary companies (view the full article here).

It is becoming clear to the General Union that this announcement, seemingly timed as a reaction to the recent revisions to the dispatch, and other labor laws that would directly affect the company, is designed not as a means by which to "position ourselves to manage the growth in the market", but as a way to evade legal obligations that they would otherwise soon be subject to.


As part of our process of protesting Interac's plans, the General Union has contacted the company to discuss the issues that Interac's planned "absorption-type split" will create, and to seek answers to some of the burning questions that this announcement has raised.

The answers have been unclear so as we continue to press Interac on this topic and await formal negotiations, the General Union is advising all Interac employees, even those who are not members of the General Union, to formally state their objection (via letter) at having their employer forcibly changed as of January 1st.

Here is why we are advising this course of action:


WHY THE GENERAL UNION IS CONCERNED

1. Changes to the Shakai Hoken Law(s)
In the near future (October, 2016), the laws that govern Shakai Hoken enrolment will be changed. Although the details are not yet concrete, the proposed changes are likely to mean that Interac would have to enrol all of its employees working 20 hours or more in shakai hoken.

2. Revisions to the Dispatch Law(s)
The recent revisions to the dispatch laws will soon make it difficult for Boards of Education to continue to justify the use of gyōmu itaku (service / outsourcing) contracts between themselves and companies such as Interac.

By removing the hard "three years and then direct employment" limit that haken rodosha (dispatch employee) contracts can be used, and by making haken rodosha contracts "infinite term" in nature, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (自由民主党, jiyū-minshutō) has effectively undercut the primary benefit that has made the exploitation of gyōmu itaku contracts attractive to Boards of Education and dispatch companies alike, regardless of the fact that the use of such contracts is illegal.

In the future, although haken rodosha contracts will be able to be renewed indefinitely, a client company will still have to consider direct employment of the dispatched worker after three years, or else the dispatching company will have to replace the dispatched employee with an entirely different employee. In addition, haken rodosha contracts also generally require shakai hoken enrolment.

By splitting into subsidiary companies, it is thought that Interac is attempting to continue to push the provision of ALTs as a dehumanized "education service", rather than dignifying them by acknowledging their roles as teachers and instructors.

Interac's goal is to retain the right to use gyōmu itaku contracts even after the revisions to the dispatch law(s) finally take effect. By continuing to use gyōmu itaku contracts, Interac will neatly avoid the rules that will govern the new law revision, and in turn avoid the complications of having a set-limit on how long they can dispatch a person to a specific Board of Education, and - of course - to further keep them out of shakai hoken enrolment obligations.


3. Changes to Employment Law(s)
As of 2018, anyone who has been in employment with a company for five or more years will have the right to request permanent employment at that company, rather than be employed via unstable yearly contracts. This means that ifyou have been employed since 2013, you will be entitled to permanent employment.

However, now that Interac is splitting into six subsidiary companies, there is a concern that their employment at "Interac Whatever" will reset the clock on that entitlement.

People who have worked at Interac for more than five years may soon find that their employment with "Interac" ended in 2016, and that their employment with "Interac Whatever" is now the deciding factor come 2018, robbing them of their chances at seeking permanent employment, and permitting Interac to deftly weasel their way out of any obligation to do so.


4. Interac Negotiated In Bad Faith
Another pressing issue is that Interac had been in prolonged negotiations with the General Union prior to the sudden announcement. At no point in the history of those negotiations did Interac even hint that it was even considering an "absorption-type split agreement", let alone that plans had already been set in motion and that a date for the split had been set.

Why didn't they mention it? Why did Interac not mention it in negotiations less than a month earlier than the announcement? If, as Interac claims, this split is merely to structure the company to prepare for the future, why did Interac seek to hide their plans? The word "suspicious" barely does this deceit justice.


WHAT WE RECOMMEND

We recommend that all Interac employees (union members and non-members alike) send a letter to the company to lodge their objections. The company cannot change your employer mid-contract if you object.

A simple letter of object will suffice. For example:

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to lodge my objections to the change of my employer.

I do not agree with my employment being transferred to a subsidiary company.

Sincerely,

xxxx



Do not be deterred by the arbitrary "October 16th" deadline.


FINAL THOUGHTS

When Kevin Salthouse sat in his office and recorded his video about how Interac's seeks to grow, purposefully reminding you about Interac's financial foundation (build upon the rocks of employee exploitation), none of these issues were ever hinted at.

When the President of Interac thanked "every employee" from "the bottom of my heart" in his letter, and boasted about how he "receive[s] great compliments from [clients] about the high quality of our ALTs and service", he somehow forgot to mention these issues also.

It is, perhaps, a little strange that both the President and the General Manager so artfully avoided these core issues.

Remember that, as the self-proclaimed "largest private provider of professional foreign teachers to the Japanese government" and "a significant player in providing professional teachers for commercial and government organizations", Interac is able to set the trend for other dispatch companies to follow.

Is this the future that you want for yourself? Are you content to have your value worth only as much as it is to replace you? Aren't you tired of having your dignity undercut for the sake of corporate profits?

Take a stand, join the General Union, and let Interac know that they're not above the law.



Are you concerned about your future with Interac? Are you concerned about your future in Japan on the whole? Contact the General Union at:

union(@)generalunion.org


Do you have questions about Interac's intention to split into subsidiary companies, or are you confused about some of the issues raised in this article? Let us know on our official Facebook page at:

http://www.facebook.com/GeneralUnionJapan
 


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