News

Aeon subsidiary Amity implicated in teacher's suicide

A labor standards office in Ishikawa Prefecture took an unusual move to determine that the suicide of an English-language instructor was caused by the extra work she was forced to do at home.

The woman had sent e-mails to colleagues and acquaintances lamenting the extra work. She also wept in phone calls to her father about her workload.

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Dear John Doe

Thank you for your anonymous email from a hidden email address.

You wrote about a number of problems at your company that are most likely illegal. But what is the use of writing if you are unwilling to sit down and talk with us? We aren't the police, and we can't go storming in with batons and handcuffs, ready to arrest the owner.

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Osaka C-NETs: A two tier system!

 

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Gaba Instructor Christmas Party 2014

General Union Gaba Branch invites you to Super Jam Part Four - The Gaba Branch's third Christmas Party!

ゼネラルユニオンGABA支部があなたを招待GABA教師のクリスマス パーティー

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In the booth: Blocking sexual harassment

Instructors at Gaba in the past struggled to have clients who harassed them blocked. The GU brought this directly to the company last year, and Gaba changed the rules. No one should be harassed at work. Here it is in graphic form:

 

 

Defeat the "Zero Overtime Pay" Bill! Stop karoshi and regulate working hours

It seems that the Abe government's goal is to make Japan "the world's easiest country to do business in". And so the notorious "white-collar exemption", already rejected once, has come up yet again. Presumably as a part of this, a debate has already begun at the Labor Policy Council within the Welfare and Labor Ministry over a new system, one that would drastically loosen the Labor Standards Law regulations on working hours, and would have wages decided not by hours worked, but by results achieved.

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Don't give Berlitz a free ride. Organise!

The General Union has been negotiating for pay before, between, and after lessons since 2007 and for the last seven years Berlitz has consistently told us that teachers DO NOT WORK BETWEEN LESSONS!

 

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Stop! Think before you upload that cute student photo

Does your school have specific rules about taking pictures with students, and about uploading them to social media?

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Happy Halloween. Do you have your costume ready?

Halloween has exploded in Japan and most language schools make an event of it, requiring teachers and staff to wear costumes to lessons or a school party.

While some people don't mind, the union, and the Labor Standards Law, doesn't believe that employees should be burdened with the cost of a costume. If it is a requirement of your job to wear a costume the school should either provide costumes, or reimburse teachers for the cost of buying one.

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Disaster preparations at Gaba Corporation

Instructors who were at Gaba in 2011 will remember the trains stopping and the streets being clogged with cars. Some will also remember walking huge distances to get home in the middle of the night. The Tokyo government wants to prevent a repeat of this in the event of any future disaster.

On September 29th the union submitted a query to Gaba asking how they were complying with the Tokyo Metropolitan Govermment ordinance from April 2013 stating that companies should keep supplies in their offices in case of people being stranded in a disaster.  

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11/22 Ganbare, Metro Ladies! Irregular Workers' Assembly in Tokyo. Please join in!

NUGW Tokyo East's Metrocommerce Branch is a group of non-regular employees working at kiosks in Tokyo Metro stations. They are fighting to eliminate wage discrimination between them and the regular employees. On the 22nd of November, they are holding an assembly to appeal for support for their branch's struggle, and also to call on fellow non-regular employees--who suffer from the same sorts of discrimination and low wages--to stand up together. We hope every one of you will be able to participate.

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General Union supports Hong Kong protests. So can you.

At the request of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions our union has submitted a protest letter (see below) to both the President of China and the CEO of Hong Kong protesting their attacks on pro-democracy protesters and strikers.

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From the Archives – British Culture Academy

Some things never change. Back in 2006 we ran a story from our sister union in Tokyo about problems at British Culture Academy. Here it is eight years later and they are just as sketchy as ever. The company has made illegal salary deductions for resigning, necessitating teachers lodging a case with the Labor Standards Board. Contact us if you work there. It just goes to show you need to keep a strong union in your work place.

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What made you join the union?

As a union of mostly migrant workers we put a lot if effort into recruiting new members as people are regularly returning to their home countries. Recruitment is essential for us. We do a lot of different activities to make the union attractive to new members. We hold open meetings, we make leaflets, YouTube videos , we stand outside schools ready to talk to people willing to listen, but in the final analysis, whether people join or not, comes down to our current members.

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Sexual Harassment in Eikaiwa

The Japan Times has published another article dealing with incidents of sexual harassment in the English teaching industry. It is very sad that this kind of article is necessary, but it is. Sexual harassment in the workplace should not be accepted, and if it occurs it should be dealt with by employers. Unfortunately this is often not the case, particularly when the person doing the harassment is a client, as has happened at Gaba Corporation.

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Osaka C-NETs seek to improve working conditions

After months of preparation, we are happy to announce the formation of our new union branch at Osaka City Board of Education. Known as Osaka C-NETs, the branch consists of Native English Teachers (NETS) who teach alongside Japanese English teachers.

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Osaka C-NET Demands

Here is a list of the demands that have been submitted to the Osaka City Board of Education. We expect we first negotiations to be in the coming month.

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C-NETs Executive Committee

Will L. (Chair)

I'm William from the East Midlands in England, and I've been working as an Osaka C-NET since August 2013. I was born and raised in the UK trade union system and I've been with the General Union since July 2014.

 

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Nova Continues to Stagnate for Instructors - want to help improve things?

Four years on from the acquisition of GEOS and a long period of restructuring and branding changes, things at Nova have stabilized. Old branches have been renovated, several new branches have opened, and new educational material is being published.

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Suing Nippon Steel - update

As many of you know, the General Union is suing Nippon Steel Sumikin Intercom (NSSI) over the illegal dismissal of two workers. At first the company claimed restructuring, however we have found evidence of the company advertising positions that our members could have done.

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A Christmas for Everyone

Christmas is for everyone. It may seem a little early to write about Christmas now, but at this time in 2013 Gaba Corporation were planning last year’s company Christmas party. Unfortunately instructors were not invited, which the union officially protested in negotiations with the company. Consequently, in June the union asked the company to invite instructors this time.

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Berlitz Branch Officers and Representatives

Joe M. (Chair - Umeda)

As a long term employee at Berlitz I take great interest in the direction of the company and the well being of my colleagues. Being branch chair allows me to represent our members and ensure our voice is heard on an even footing.

 

 

Achim R . (Nagoya)

Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon. Coming soon.

 

 

David P. (Umeda)

Hi, I'm Dave and I have been working at Berlitz since 2014 but I've with the union since 2013 from my time at Coco Juku. This is my first year as an executive and I decided to take on a more active role to ensure the union can get teachers the help they need. I believe employers should take a fair approach to remuneration by making sure we can have a decent standard of living as this motivates us to work towards generating a fat profit for the company - a win/win situation. I am also a representative for Umeda and I'll listen to anything  you want to talk about be it work, visas or just life here. Feel free to contact me on Line, Skype, by email or just stop me in the corridor if you see me in the LC.

 

Jools C. (Umeda)

I joined the General Union in 2002 and have witnessed some fundamental improvements in working conditions due to persistent union activity. Our union brings change that goes far beyond the workplace and has a direct impact on society. This keeps me focused on our overall long term goals.

 

 Ricky B. (Sannomiya, Ashiya, Nishinomiya & Hiroshima)

Hi, My name is Ricky and I have been with Berlitz since January 2000. In that time I have seen many changes both beneficial and not so for employees and staff. Recently I decided to step up to the plate and join the General Union as I felt the changes were now more detrimental to a suitable working environment for staff and teachers. As an executive officer and local representative for Sannomiya, Ashiya & Nishinomiya I am here for you. I strongly believe that a better working environment for staff and teachers is essential so don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or even wish to just chat about things in general. My door and email address is always open for you.

 

Ross R. (Umeda)

I’ve been with the union for over 10 years.  I’m a member of the Berlitz Branch and work mainly in the Umeda Language Center.  I’m a strong believer in keeping workplace accountability to its employees high and the union has served that purpose well.  I’m happy to listen to your workplace concerns and pass them along to the right person.

 

 

Minerva Language Institute Labour Commission Case Settled

On March 18, 2014, the union lodged an unfair labour practice case against Minerva Language Institute (Minerva) for failing to negotiate at the Osaka Labour Relations Commission.

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Strike wins Pay Raise, Lump Sum Payment at ECC

After months of negotiations with ECC and a one-day strike, General Union members have won the reinstatement of annual pay increases for full-time teachers, and a lump sum payment.

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Shimbashi LS Evacuation Poster Updated

At negotiations last week the General Union Gaba Branch asked the company a number of questions about emergency preparations, and showed a photo of the evacuation procedure poster in Shimbashi Learning Studio, which has been on the wall lacking an evacuation point for over 12 months. The company followed up on this and as seen below, there is now an evacuation point displayed at Shimbashi LS. The company is going to follow up all other LSs and ensure that they all have emergency posters with evacuation locations.

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Union asks Gaba to improve poor safety preparations

On March 11th, 2011 the fifth biggest earthquake ever recorded occurred east of Tohoku. Nearly 16,000 people died, over 2,600 are still missing and almost 130,000 buildings totally collapsed.

Instructors who were working that day know that Gaba Corporation was almost completely unprepared for this event, and the company's response was chaotic at best.

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Fairness in the workplace - A Berlitz story

Disciplinary procedures and student complaints can cause a lot of stress for many teachers. Teachers are sent into a room alone to face people who are in a position of power and often feel bullied into signing statements of guilt with no time to consider what is happening or get advice.

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Panasonic Excel, “We don’t sign collective agreements with minority unions.”

What arrogance!

And with this the company wanted us just to have a “gentlemen's agreement” in regards to consulting the union BEFORE changes are made to members' working conditions.

For many years the union and Panasonic Excel International had a relatively smooth relationship and we were able to work out many problems which our members faced, but now, with the non-renewal of the branch chair, it’s hard to believe that Excel expects a smooth working relationship with the union.

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Sunday, June 29 Open Public Seminars - Come along

We are holding to 2 seminars in Nagoya.
 
1. Universities: Towards 2018 - Impact of changes to Labor Contract Law (the 5 year rule)

2. ALTs & Eikaiwa: What are your rights? 

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Sexual Harassment at Gaba Corporation in the news

Last week the Japan Times published an article dealing with the issue of sexual harassment at Gaba Corporation. It featured interviews with a number of Gaba instructor who gave their accounts of sexual harassment while working at Gaba. The stories were horrific, and something that no one should ever have to put up with.

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Additional information