News

Fight to Resist Worsening of the Labor Laws!

Lawyers’ Group to Host May 21 Emergency Assembly--All Join Forces!

The Abe government seems to be trying at any cost to make Japan “the easiest country in the world to do business in”. LDP governments before now have consigned postwar worker-protection laws to oblivion one after another, pushing relentlessly on with the passing of the Dispatch Law and so on, but now they are trying to finish it all off.

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"NO VAcation on Saturdays", says NOVA "Paid Vacation is a Right", says the General Union

On April 9th, 2015, an employee of NOVA submitted a written request to use one of his paid holidays on May 30th, 2015.

In an attempt to circumvent the labor law, NOVA responded to this reasonable request by flatly ignoring it, and then by finally verbally informing the employee that not only would NOVA not approve the holiday, he should instead organize a "shift swap" with another person.

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It's the Wild, Wild West at Berlitz Tokai

Work rules are specific rules for the workplace that outline conditions such as work hours, salary, and rules employees need to abide by. In Japan, companies with 10 or more regular employees must draw up work rules and submit them to the Labor Standards Inspection Office.

At Berlitz Japan we have work rules and also a Policies and Procedures Manual that is used in conjunction with the Berlitz Work Rules. The Policies and Procedures Manual considers how the Berlitz Work Rules apply on a day to day basis and where there is any conflict, the Berlitz Work Rules take precedence as long as they are in accordance
with Labor Laws.

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June 30: ECC Branch Sets a Deadline over pay demand

At an April 19 branch meeting, members of the ECC branch voted on the following proposal: 

"If our demand for a 5% pay increase for all ECC General Union members is not met, we will go into dispute as of June 30, with a strike date to be determined if the company, with over two months' notice of a possible dispute, does not make a pay raise offer acceptable to members.”

The members who attended the meeting unanimously voted for the proposal, as did the overwhelming majority of the absentee members who voted online in the following week. A notice informing the company of the decision has been sent.

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メーデー : International Labour Day Celebration

Participate in May Day!

What do you call May 1st? International Workers' Day or Labour Day? The name will change depending what part of the world you are from but May 1st has been celebrated as a workers' day since the late 1880's.

As usual, here in Osaka, we will be participating with affiliated unions. There are 3 events during the day so people can join in as they please.

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Myembro ng Shinobu Foods Nagwagi sa Bagong Check-off System

Ang "check-off" (salitang ginagamit ng mga kawani ng industriya at empleyo) ay isang proseso kung saan kusang kinakaltas ng kumpanya/amo ang kontribusyon ng mga myembro ng unyon mula sa kanilang sweldo.

Ang check-off ay karaniwang sistema ng mga unyon sa Japan at maging sa ating bansa. Subalit, sa maliliit na unyong tulad ng General Union, ang ganitong sistema ay hindi gaanong pangkaraniwan.

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IES sued over failure to enroll in shakai hoken

On 9 April a member, supported by the union, filed a case against International Education Services for failure to enroll him in shakai hoken (health & pension) for the past fourteen years.


This case came to the union's attention when a member came to us with a possible problem with his contract renewal. While examining the contract we realised that even though he was on a clear full time contract for the past fourteen years he had never been enrolled in health and pension insurance (shakai hoken).  Nor was he enrolled on unemployment insurance.

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Send ECC a message they won't forget

ECC members will start their second round of negotiations on 15 April. Despite a rocky first round, we hope for a more positive response from the company during our second round, but we're not resting on hope.

We've narrowed our demands down to three main points

  • Use of half-day paid holidays. Despite this being allowed by law, ECC says it won’t recognize teachers’ rights in this matter. 

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Union establishes Kiva Lending Team

As a union we recognize the need to empower people. We empower our members to deal with problems in their workplaces, and we empower them to seek improvements in working conditions too.

A natural extension of our work is to help empower people in the wider community, both local and international. To this end we have established a Kiva Lending Team.

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Osaka University plans to dismiss 162 long term employees

Osaka University, which was selected by the state for the “super global university project”, is moving ahead with its plan to dismiss 162 non-regular workers.

The targeted 162 workers have been working for more than 10 years under fixed-term contracts in various university positions, such as library and accounting staff positions, which require specialized skills and experience. Among university staff, there is growing concern that a massive dismissal of skilled workers will affect university operations.

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First wins in Takatsuki City AET fight

For those of you following this case we are happy to report two victories. Though just a first step in our fight with Takatsuki Board of Education, it is a good start.

Since beginning to negotiate with the BoE in late 2014, bureaucrats have taken the line that our members are not employees. This is despite their contracts clearly stating it is an employment contract. The Board of Education also arranged regular employee visas for AETs, and deducted taxes from their salaries like regular employees. Amongst the “misinformation” the BoE have been giving is that AETs are "ambassadors" and not workers.

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Fukuoka Board of MISeducation wants legal changes

Fukuoka Now magazine has reported that the Fukuoka Board of Education (BoE) is asking the central government to relax some changes in the Worker Dispatch Law in order to offer more vibrant English classes.

Currently, Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) working for the Fukuoka BoE are being dispatched to their schools on a "gyomu itaku" subcontracting basis. This means that they are on consignment from a private dispatch company so the BoE is not allowed to guide the teachers' work without committing subcontracting fraud.

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Union strength gathering to win the fight

On February 19, the customary Shunto (spring labor offensive) rally was held at L-Osaka with Union Network hosting. After the hosts' greetings, the first to stand up and give a special report were the plaintiffs of the JAL case, fighting restructuring layoffs. Undaunted by the dismissal of their appeal to the Supreme Court, they showed us their will to fight.

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Kun'ei Girls High Schoool Negotiations

This evening saw the first round of collective bargaining between our branch at Kun'ei Girls High School and representatives of the school's administration. After a short debriefing session, our members sat down for a chat to discuss the school's responses and their general impressions.

 

 

City Councillors Support Takatsuki AETs

 

In a show of solidarity, members of different unions from  across Kansai came out to support our March 11 demonstration over the unfair firing of members at Takatsuki Board of Education. Over 10 sister unions sent representatives. From the General Union we also had supporters from our Kansai Gaidai, Doshisha Kori, ECC, Industrial & Commercial, and Nichibei branches.

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Takatsuki city out of control. Cancels contract with sister city and in breach of AET's employment contracts

Takatsuki City, under their sister-city contract with the city of Toowoomba, has been inviting AETs from Australia for the past twenty years to teach in their public elementary schools. While these teachers sign employment contracts, have taxes withheld and obtain working visas, the city has refused to follow the Labor Standards Law or to enroll them in compulsory public insurance by claiming that they are not employees. They have committed multiple violations of law: AETs are given no annual leave, and are not enrolled in Workers’ Compensation, Employment Insurance or health insurance. Also, the accommodations allotted to them by the City are of inferior quality, though high rents are charged, and to make matters worse AETs were forced to live there.

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March 11 - Osaka Shunto Demonstrations

March 11 - Shuntō (春闘) is a Japanese term, translated as "spring labor offensive". Negotiations and industrial action are held during this period seeking salary increases along with other improvements in working conditions. It's history dates back to the 1940's

In Kansai, our federation and other associated unions will be demonstrating at various companies across Osaka. Targets for the General Union include Osaka City where we are negotiating to break 3 year term limits for city hired Native English Teachers, amongst fighting for other improvements. We will also be demonstrating in Takatsuki City against the Board of Education’s arbitrary decision to cancel the AET program after teachers dared to move out of sub-standard housing and joined a union.

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ECC School Director Evaluation Survey

The General Union ECC Branch played a major part in the revisions to the School Director Evaluation Form for the current school year. Our Evaluation Committee had several rounds of negotiations and ECC management agreed to many of our proposals.

Please take a moment to complete our survey so we can take into consideration suggestions from all teachers working at ECC.

Take the ONLINE SURVEY here

We will not be intimidated by GABA!

Gaba negotiations, 2pm at our Osaka office tomorrow. If talks fail we will be taking a vote to launch an unfair labor practice case against the company. Preliminary permission has already been given but we want to make sure all members are on board.

We believe that under both the Constitution and the Trade Union Law, workers have the right to organise a union and that means distributing union materials - even on company premises.

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Will ECC see yet another strike over pay?

Members at ECC, after having ran a successful strike last year over pay cuts and doubling their membership over the past year have submitted new pay demands to the company. Last year's strike of about 50 teachers was in order to fight a company proposal to replace yearly performance based pay increments with lump sum payments and hence freezing their wages, but this year members aren't going to be satisfied just stopping clawbacks - they want more money in their pockets.

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Berlitz: Strike deadline passes as negotiations continue

Background To Recent Events
On 28 October 2014 instructors received a personalized hand delivered letter outlining a set of changes to their contracts as well as notification of a new Full Time Instructor Contract. The Berlitz Branch union contested the arbitrary changes in collective bargaining on a number of points:

The announcement of arbitrary changes was made public without any preconsultation  which we feel violates one of our union and company collective agreements.

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Gaba does care about our safety after all

The Metropolitan Tokyo Ordinance on Measures for Stranded Persons came into force in 2013. It states that companies in the Tokyo area must stock up on water, food and other provisions in case of emergencies and workers are stranded in the city.

The union submitted questions to Gaba asking for details of how they are complying with the law. For months, emails went back and forth between the union and Gaba, with the company being evasive about exact details. Finally though, we have been to nail them down.

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Independent Contracts

Are you truly independent? Are you financially better off on an ID contract? The union believes that you aren't. We also believe the contracts to be illegal. To this end we are shortly launching a group action lawsuit against the company. You can be a plaintiff if you are on an independent contract.

 

Truths About ID Contracts
Over the coming weeks we will be running a series of articles that highlight particular issues about the ID contracts. Feel free to contact us if you have particular questions about the contract.

We will be updating this page as new articles are added.

 

 

On a roll at Berlitz

During the first week of January union members at Berlitz took an almost unanimous strike ballot in order to back our demands.

1. Full pay for all work before, between, and after lessons.

2. Withdrawal of the unilateral company proposal for clawbacks (while trying to pay for time between lessons)

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Shinobu Foods members win new check-off system

Check-off (Industrial Relations & HR Terms) - a procedure whereby an employer deducts union contributions directly from an employee's pay and pays the money to the union.

Check off is common practice in many of our home countries, it is also quite common in company controlled unions in Japan. For smaller unions, such as the General Union, it is very rare.

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New Nova Contract Is Fishy

Recent negotiations with NOVA's management (from their Osaka and Nagoya offices) has confirmed what the union has suspected since the new "itaku" contracts (independent contractors) were first introduced: the contracts are very fishy.

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Keep Them Up Nights

No PLs Allowed

Nagoya Gaidai: GU wins improved working conditions for language tutors.

Negotiate to winThe General Union branch at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) has made steady progress over the last year,  in particular by improving working conditions for PUT tutors. These are part-time teachers, working on language programs, who are paid on a per-lesson basis. This means that if teachers are unable to teach classes for any reason, for example sickness or classes cancelled because of typhoons, they have not been paid. Unlike most part-time university teachers, including those at NUFS the nature of the program makes it difficult for them to teach make-up classes and they are not paid for the summer, winter and spring breaks.

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