Schools and Colleges

Osaka Gaigo: What Are They So Desperate To Hide?

Bunsai Gakuen Educational Corporation and Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko Stubbornly Refuse to Show their Financial Statements

In our February 2018 article, we reported on the puzzling behavior of Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko in pouring money wastefully into a lawsuit while insisting that they “have no money” ("Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)").

The situation has continued to develop.

When the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission issued an order for relief of unfair labor practices, commanding the school to "apologize to the Union and allow them to examine the financial statements", Osaka Gaigo filed suit in Osaka District Court seeking cancellation of the relief order. 

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Union Sues Marist Brothers International School

sue o clock

On October 9th (2018), the General Union filed an application at the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission suing Marist Brothers International School for their violation of the Trade Union Law.

The union had been trying unsuccessfully for a couple of months to get Marist Brothers to the collective bargaining table over their unfair contract non-renewal of a teacher who returned to work after taking maternity leave.

The union charges that Marist Brothers, not wanting to renew a contract which would have lead to a future unlimited term contract, unfairly ended the employment of the teacher - without any warnings - over what they claim to be the teachers "problems" at work.

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The Pursuit Of Union Representation At Deutsche Schule Kobe

deutsche schule kobeThe General Union has been in negotiations with the Deutsche Schule Kobe for over six months.

Teachers at the school joined the General Union after the school reduced their bonus to zero for the previous academic year after they had received only 50% of the usual bonus for the year before that.

The school have given their financial situation as the reason for not paying a bonus. 

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Takatsuki City to Appeal Yet Again After Osaka High Court Rules On "Takatsuki AET Graduation Incident"

this is fineOn March 19th, 2015, two General Union members who were employed by the Takatsuki City Board of Education to assist with English language activities at city elementary schools were refused permission by the Board of Education to attend their students' graduation ceremonies.

Over the three-and-a-half years since then, the fight over this surprising incident has moved from the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission to the Osaka District Court, and then once again to the Osaka High Court.

On September 7th, 2018, the Osaka High Court handed down its ruling (PDF):

 

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Shoin Gakuen: How Will They "Explain" Their Illegal Dismissals In Court?

blind justice osaka shoinA General Union member who held a job as a non-regular teacher of English at Shoin High School (operated by Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation) was dismissed from the job, with no reason given, on March 31st (2018) - just a day before gaining the right to switch to an unlimited-term contract.

On June 25th (2018), our union member filed suit against Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation, claiming the dismissal was invalid, and held a press conference together with the General Union. 

The scene was broadcast by several major media outlets in the Kansai region (MBSAsahiKTVYTV).

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It's Not Too Late To Make Sure You Don't Lose Your Pension

Back in February of 2017, a retiring, long-term union member at Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko realised that - even though he qualified for a pension - he would lose nine years of potential pension contributions.

The union won health and pension insurance rights back in 2000, but his first nine years were lost...

Or so he thought. 

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Shoin Gakuen Makes The News

osaka newsEven though the General Union's name wasn't mentioned, our members' illegal dismissal due to the implementation of the Labor Contract Law amendements (aka the "five year rule") has made the news.

This coming Monday, June 25th, we will be holding a press conference as we lodge the court case against Educational Corporation Shoin Gakuen, and we expect television cameras to be there.

Read the Japanese article below (click for full size): 

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Okinawa Christian University To Withdraw Dismissals Of Non-Regular Teaching Staff

Through collective-bargaining with the Okinawa Christian University (and Okinawa Christian Junior College), the "Union For Part-Time Teachers in Universities" in Okinawa recently won the removal of an article in the working regulations for non-regular teachers.

That article set a five-year employment limit in the contract terms for part-time teachers.

According to the Okinawa Times, the switch to permanent contracts will now be possible (in compliance with the law). 

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Problems Solved At Kansai Gaidai

The General Union branch at Kansai Gaidai university has been busy dealing with a number of issues arising from the closure of the university’s Hotani campus and the opening of a new campus at Gotenyama.

Visiting professors at the university have always received on-campus apartments, which is specified in their contracts.

Teachers moving from the Hotani campus to the Nakamiya and Gotenyama campuses were told that there was not sufficient accommodation to house them in the apartments at the nearby Nakamiya campus.

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Osaka Shoin: Harassment By Camera?

Along with all the other issues that the General Union is currently dealing with, here's a quick recap to remind people of the story with Osaka Shoin Women's University up until now.

The government introduced a new law: if you've worked for five years, the school has to give you a contract with no end date. In response, Osaka Shoin freaks out and introduces a five-year employment limit just to avoid the law

This is illegal.

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Doshisha Checkoff Begins

The new school year has begun, and so has our new checkoff agreement at Doshisha Kori. From here on in Japanese and foreign members alike at Doshisha will be able to have their dues directly deducted from their salary. In the coming months we will be rolling the system out at other Doshisha schools.

Why is dues checkoff important?

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Mission Impossible - The New School Year [OP-ED]

If you choose to accept this mission you will teach six 1st grade JHS classes.

The mission is to find the five other people all teaching this course.

To make it that more difficult, we will not give you any of the names of the people you are working with. 

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Osaka Gaigo's "Argument"

Back in early 2017, the General Union helped one of our members sue Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko over financial losses due to their failure to enroll him in Health & Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).

Although the case is currently ongoing, we thought you might be interested in what "The Gaigo" is claiming.

You can read it all in the pdf link, but here are some choice highlights...

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Ritsumeikan University Lands Itself In Trouble

In Japan, companies and schools must follow certain procedures for any overtime to be allowed under the law.

The Labour Standards Law requires that a workers’ representative, elected by a majority of ALL workers (not just those who vote), sign off on an overtime agreement. This means that the elected representative then has the power to permit (or refuse) overtime to take place. Without the proper election of this workers’ representative, any work over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week is NOT allowed.

In reality, the representative is often a stooge put forward by management to meet legal requirements - as what worker would have the audacity to say no and block all overtime?

Not only would the representative be in strife with their employer, but most likely also with coworkers who rely upon a certain amount of paid overtime to make ends meet.

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Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)

When you claim you don't have money, the last thing you want to do is involve yourself in frivolous law suits when there are many more expensive problems to settle.

Not Osaka Gaigo, though!

They claim poverty while dealing with two (and maybe more!) lawsuits.

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Kindai - Response To The General Union

Here is Kindai's response to our questions regarding compliance with the new Labor Contract Renewal Act and demands relating to demolition and rebuilding.

The good news is that we have secured lockers and a teacher's lounge to replace those lost in Building 11, and their answer that "part-time teachers do not have a research element to their job" means they can request unlimited term contracts after working five years from April 1st, 2013.

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Osaka Gaigo Court Case Update (September 14, 2017)

Court cases never seem to proceed at the same speed or level of excitement as seen on television shows like Perry Mason, LA Law, or even Judge Judy. This is especially true in Japan.

The first hearing of our case against Osaka Gaigo was way back in March... and yet, we are still only at the phase of exchanging documents and submitting evidence. We are hoping that official testimony will begin before the closing of the year, but who knows?

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"GU Helped Me Win Tenure"

We received a message this week. It's nice to hear kind words but better yet, it was good to hear that our education campaign about the "5 year rule" helped someone to better their work conditions.

***

Dear GU - Although I'm not a member (I live in Tokyo) I have been following your posts for a while. This is my sixth year of a one-year contract BUT I'm fortunate as my school has applied for a non-regular teaching license (教育職員特別免許) for me (awarded on Sep 1!) and plan to give me a tenured position from next year. I partially attribute this to your posts, which let me know what questions to ask as well as background knowledge on labor laws. Thanks a million. In the near future, I would like to make a small donation to show my support for what you do. Once things settle down, you could let me know how to do that. Keep up the heroic deeds!

 

Osaka Shoin And "The 5 Year Rule" (Part 1)

Teachers with limited-term (usually one year) contracts make up a large proportion of the teachers at universities, colleges, and high schools across Japan.

In 2013, an amendment to the Labor Contract Act, aimed to give increased security to workers on limited term contracts.

Article 19 of the act states that after renewal of such a contract, further renewals shall not be refused without reasonable grounds.

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Osaka Shoin And "The 5 Year Rule" (Part 2)

Original title: The Osaka Labor Bureau's comments on avoiding conversion to unlimited-term contract

Part 1 here

To better understand this topic, you should know the background of this situation. In short, the union strongly believes (and has evidence) that Osaka Shoin are dismissing (via non-renewing) employees at both the high school and university to avoid granting unlimited term contracts as required by the new “5 year rule”.

Collective Bargaining is ongoing, but the university has yet to retract the dismissals.

As part of our fight to save teachers’ jobs, the General Union has lodged a complaint at the Osaka Labor Bureau, and they have since visited the school to offer “guidance”.

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Board of Education Illegally Denies Childcare Leave

Recently, the General Union received an e-mail from a worried JET at a Kanto area Board of Education. Married, the teacher is expecting her first child later in the year.

When she approached the Board of Education to ask about maternity and childcare leave, she was happy to learn that she could take maternity leave and that the Board of Education would help with documentation so that she could receive maternity leave allowance through shakai hoken (Employee Health and Pension Insurance; EHPI).

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Members Speak Up; Kansai Gaidai Backs Down

On March 2, 2017, members of the shohei faculty at Kansai Gaidai were contacted by their director and told that they would have to teach extra classes. This came as no surprise as Gaidai usually has a shortage of teachers.

Although history has shown that they can expect to lose 1-3 faculty members on short notice each semester, Gaidai does nothing to prepare for this. Each semester, the faculty holds its collective breath, hoping they will not be among those saddled with extra classes.

However, thanks to the General Union, this semester was different.

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Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before - Takatsuki BoE Update

So, a judge, the General Union, and the Takatsuki Board of Education walk into a court room (stop me if you think you've heard this one before). The judge turns to the Board of Education and says...

Well, actually, perhaps we need a bit of background information first.

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Are Public Schools Actually "Black Companies" In Disguise?

For all of the nobility of working as a teacher in public (or otherwise) schools, the reality of the situation is often entirely at odds with the otherwise romantic image that society paints of such an essential academic workforce. On April 28th, 2017, this couldn't have been made any clearer.

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Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)

Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)In the week beginning 6th of February 2017, part-time teachers (including General Union members) at Doshisha Iwakura Junior High School were summoned to individual meetings and informed that their contracts would not be renewed after next April (2018).

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Hokkaido International School Unionizes

Last year we were approached by teachers at Hokkaido International School looking to unionize. Given that the company is located in Sapporo, and we could not legally enforce collective bargaining in Osaka, we decided it was best to find a local union.

Sapporo General Union (unrelated to General Union) does not actively seek foreign members but when we approached them they decided to take up HIS. It helped that there were potential members fluent in Japanese.

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GU Member sues Osaka Gaigo for pension damages - March 13

The first hearing in our member's case against Osaka Gaigo is set for March 13. Members and non-members alike are invited to attend. Our lawyers will also explain, in English and Japanese, the merits of the case, legal precedents, and how Osaka Gaigo broke the law.

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Does The Punishment Fit The Behaviour?

As a union, we believe that certain employee behaviour can, at times, warrant justifiable discipline (and even dismissal) under a fair set of working rules. Even so, this case raises some moral questions.

Many of you will have heard of the Kwansaei Gakuin lecturer who made a comment about seeing if a student from Fukushima Prefecture would "glow in the dark" (allegedly after turning off the lights in the classroom, according to some media). Fukushima, as you probably well know, is still experiencing the effects of a nuclear meltdown and the negative stigma that media saturation / sensationalism has caused.

The so-called "joke" was certainly offensive and inconsiderate, especially considering the bullying that has occurred to students relocated from Fukushima to other areas of Japan - but was the punishment appropriate?

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The Precarious Position of the Part-time University Instructor [OP-ED]

For more than 26 years, I have called Japan home in which most of that time I have worked as a part-time university English instructor at various institutions, settling at three Kansai area schools for the past ten years or so.

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Doshisha: Final Warning Sent Over "Dues Checkoff" Demand

General Union members at Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School have been attempting to get their employer agree to a union "dues checkoff" system. This would allow union members to have their dues withdrawn directly from their monthly salaries.

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