Two wins for Ichishin cram school workers

On June 25th, the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission ruled in favor of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Tobu, Ichishin Gakuin Local, finding that Ichishin Gakuin, a major cram school, illegal refused to extend the annual contracts of two union members and refused to allow the union president to teach a class, in an attempt to weaken the union.


We want to talk! We want to teach! We don't want to strike!

It’s been a very busy time at the General Union ECC branch. 

Despite repeated attempts to meet with the ECC management informally, we have been rebuffed at every step.

Our goal is a fair pay increase for all members and members of course will consider any offer made, but ECC has made NO offer to the union.

While we are prepared to go on strike in July, members desperately want to settle this issue with no disruption. So on Wednesday, 24 June union officials went to the Osaka Labour Commission for help. We filed an application for mediation. This means that if ECC agrees we can continue negotiations with the help of the mediators at the labour commission.


Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease & The Case For Paid Sick Leave

The GENERAL UNION has received news that an outbreak of "Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease" (HFMD) - a highly contagious intestinal virus that children in particular are at risk from - has been reported at a notable "international school".


ECC Pay Increases - Does Not Compute

Don’t let them debase the labor laws and increase death from overwork! Zenrokyo opposes the “zero overtime bill” and the amendments to the Workers Dispatch Law

Overshadowed by the talk in the mass media about the Diet debate over the Security (War) Bill, the lower-house Welfare and Labor Committee has begun discussions aimed at amending--worsening--the Dispatch Law. There was a movement to push it through the Diet early in June. This move was halted when the sudden problems happened with illegal access at the Pension Organization and leaking of personal data, but it will come up again soon anyway.


Another win in our fight against Takastuki Board of Education

As we prepare to meet Takatsuki BoE representatives across the table at the Osaka Labor Commission in a few days, we have received notice of one victory.


Disasters at Gaba Corporation

You are a Gaba Kids instructor. You have a shy five year old boy next to you who knows a lot of animal names and can count to 30 and reply to English greetings. You arrived in Japan six months ago and can barely speak any Japanese. An earthquake hits, your first.

The building shakes, the flimsy partition walls sway. You look at the glass above you and wonder - will it break? Someone told you a booth exploded in Omiya LS during the March 11th earthquake.


Interac Admits Head Teacher's Errors

On May 15th, the General Union learned that a head teacher of Interac (Sendai Branch) e-mailed a newsletter to teachers in Miyagi, the contents of which contained a number of spurious and illegal comments - chief among them: claiming that teachers would not receive a salary (from their Board of Education) if they did not submit a work report on time, and encouraging teachers to privately monitor each other to ensure that ONE late report would not result in MANY teachers not getting paid.


As deadline looms, ECC branch delivers message to management

“5% is a fair request.”

“These are my reasons for asking for a 5% pay rise: two sons, one daughter, one wife, one home, rising taxes, falling real-terms salary, 24 years of dedication to ECC.”

“Love your teachers as much as your teachers love your students!”

These are just a few of the messages General Union members wrote for ECC management to read, in a greeting card that was hand-delivered at June 2's collective bargaining session.


Great Wage Survey completed - Have a look!

Download it in pdf at

The Great Wage Survey is finished and ready for your perusal. We'd like to thank everyone who took part in getting the survey completed. Now we ask your help in getting it into the hands of your friends and co-workers.

The survey covered wages, working conditions, and the economic situation of mainly foreign workers teaching in private language schools, high/junior high/elementary schools, and universities, as well as those who teach in these workplaces and may have other jobs in either office or commercial settings as well as kindergartens.


English education in disarray at Takatsuki City schools

English education in Takatsuki City elementary schools is in disarray after a series of disastrous choices, stemming from a long history of mismanagement, were made by the city Board of Education.


Hiding Sexual Harassment by clients at Gaba

If you have been following our news you know that the union has dealt with sexual harassment of instructors by Gaba students.  Some cases have been quite extreme. Things improved to some degree when, frustrated by the lack of action by Gaba management, members went to The Japan Times.

The paper ran with the issue, publishing two articles on sexual harassment in eikaiwa in June and September last year. This forced Gaba to allow instructors to block inappropriate students from their schedules much more easily. At negotiations, a number of problematic students were discussed. One particular student was discussed in detail.


Vote Today!

Today is the day when the union takes it's annual strike vote. So if you are a delegate, make sure you get to the meeting!!!

The vote gives authority to the executive committee (about 20 people who are being elected today) of the union to approve strikes in specific workplaces. Without that authority, every time there was a strike, we would need to call a meeting of the union's delegates, with some of them being as far away as Nagoya and Tokyo.


Things to remember at Berlitz

We’re still here

Maybe you haven’t heard from us for some time, but remember, we’re still here. Union members are still negotiating with the company over how you will be reimbursed for the five minutes before,  between, and after lessons. 

We beat the company’s unilateral plan to give with one hand and take with the other.


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.


Interac Just Gave Your Private E-Mail Address Away

Back in May (2015), a "Head Teacher" of Interac Sendai Branch wrote a newsletter that informed teachers that the company would (illegally) withhold their salaries if reports of work were submitted late (

The "Head Teacher" also encouraged teachers to harass each other, implying that one delayed report would affect everyone.

Well, today, someone has slipped up again - but this time, it's on a national level.


"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.


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.


"Head Teacher" Could Get Interac Sent To Detention

On Tuesday afternoon, a "Head Teacher" of Interac (Sendai Branch) - in an attempt to intimidate old and new ALTs alike - sent out a newsletter to a number of ALTs in Miyagi that included the following egregious paragraph of illegal misinformation:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Additional information