Berlitz Update (2017/09/15): Progress In Talks

Just recently, we let you know that our Berlitz Branch had taken a strike vote.

The intention was never to strike immediately, but to show the company the seriousness of our intent to protect the incomes of Pay Per Lesson teachers, as some instructors have experienced losses of over 100,000 yen per month.

The union has demanded that steps be taken to protect and guarantee the salaries of instructors.

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Emergency Drills At Gaba

Over recent years, the General Union has repeatedly raised the issue of holding emergency drills with Gaba.

In July, 2017, the union asked the company when it would conduct drills at all of the Learning Studios in the company.

However, as of the time of writing, the Akasaka, Akabane, Omotesando, Shinbashi-Shiodome, Seijo, Futakotamagawa and Kashiwa Learning Studios had not yet had drills, whereas some other Learning Studios have had several drills.

The company replied that it intended to hold drills at all studios.

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Berlitz Members Vote Yes In Strike Vote

With an overwhelming majority, a vote to enter dispute mode with Berlitz has carried this last week of August. Strikes, or other dispute acts, will not happen immediately. We will continue to negotiate with Berlitz about salary guarantees and job security for "Per Lesson" instructors in good faith. While progress is still being made action of any kind is on hold.

Taking the decision to strike or enter a dispute is never taken lightly. We ask other union members to support the Berlitz members.

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Berlitz Instructors Ready To Blow! Members Demanding Strike Vote!

Berlitz Japan is the only major language school in Japan which employs (what it calls) "Paid Per Lesson Instructors" (PL).

Unlike normal part-time workers who have set working hours (just reduced from a full-time contract), these "PL" instructors have no set working hours and are informed the night before about the next day’s schedule.

The union has complained to Berlitz that these contracts are not allowed under the Labour Standards Law because there are no set hours.

Our complaints are not based on some kind of technical legal issues; they are concretely based upon the problems that you are about to read about.

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GABA - New System Training

In the lead-up to the new system in July, Gaba staff asked instructors to sign a "letter of understanding" about training for the new computer system. It was not clear whether this was mandatory or not.

As the company had previously tried to force instructors to do unpaid training, the General Union asked the company to clarify this. Gaba stated that signing the letter of understanding was not mandatory, nor was doing the training.

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Unions Are Not "Cheap Lawyers For Hire"

In Japan, unions have many unique rights compared to many of the countries where our members come from. One of those rights is the power to demand collective bargaining regardless of the number of members we have at a particular place of work.

That's right: even with just one member, an employer cannot not refuse negotiations with a labour union.

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Why Is Amity Suddenly Recruiting Teachers From The Philippines?

Is Amity finding it difficult to recruit teachers who will simply accept what a manager says as gospel? Do they think that by hiring from the Philippines they will get workers who are too scared to ask for their rights to be respected?

It should go without saying that the General Union welcomes the idea of diversity in regards to the hiring of language teachers in Japan; such exposure to different people and culture can only enrich the experience of students.

However, in this case, we have to wonder about Amity's true motivations...

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Is NOVA A Black Company?

Many of you may have seen the government's recent list of some of the worst "black companies" in Japan - a list in which it names and shames some of the most egregious of unrepentant labor law violators.

The General Union will actually be publishing a critique of this list in the coming weeks (is a list really the best they can do?) but, in the meantime, here is a small article based upon a discussion that was held by some of our members.

The conversation started with this comment: "In the grand scheme of things, NOVA probably isn't that bad. Nobody's committed suicide over their job, have they?"

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Something To Hide? Amity Refuses To Provide Copies Of Time-Cards

As a union, we recommend all workers keep accurate records of actual working hours - including copies of time cards if they are required to punch in.

People new to the country may not realize the necessity of doing this - especially at Amity, which operates a system that is reliant upon people working overtime (and this is particularly true in the case of new teachers).

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James [English School] And The Giant [Lack Of Unemployment Insurance]?

The Unemployment Insurance System (koyou hoken; aka shitsugyou hoken) in Japan is fairly clear-cut: if you are unlucky enough to lose your job, you'll receive unemployment support benefits for a period of 90 - 330 days depending on age and length of enrollment.

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