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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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? 


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.


ECC Teachers Strike: Pay Freeze NO! Pay Raise YES!

After several rounds of Collective Bargaining with ECC, members in Chubu and Kansai were left with no option but to start industrial action and strike on Saturday, May 31st. The union had been negotiating with ECC management over Pay Increases, Annual Contract Completion Bonuses, Job Security, Teacher Evaluations and more. As Collective Bargaining proceeded ECC`s answers went from bad to worse.


Coco Juku ordered to pay up

As a result of General Union demands, Nichii Gakkan, Coco Juku’s parent company, has ordered Coco Juku to follow Article 23 of the Labor Standards Law. Full details were sent to the union in official documents on May 7.


Kansai International School forced to pay

Kansai International School/Sakura International School is notorious for its paid holiday system. Now someone has finally done something about it.

After consulting the union, one teacher applied to use her remaining paid holidays when resigning from the company. This is your right. Rather than being intimidated by the company’s refusal to pay and stopping there, the teacher took action.


Privacy protection - You don't need to let Gaba staff photograph your ID with their own phone

We like to think that we're all pretty tech savy, security conscious and not easily led. That being said, I know how easy it can be to agree to something that makes you feel a little uneasy, just to avoid the hassle of kicking up a fuss.


Gaba Branch Spring Party 2014 - Spring Smash!

On Sunday April 13th the Gaba branch had its fifth social event in the last 18 months. We held our first Christmas party at The Pink Cow in Roppongi in December 2012, then Hanami in Yoyogi Park in April 2013. We then relocated to What The Dickens in Ebisu, a great British pub and live space only a few minutes from Ebisu station.


March scramble for classes

A large number of university and high school teachers are part-time workers. And as you know, the annual ritual of waiting around to hear about new schedules can be a nerve racking time. Will you receive the same number of classes? Will the school try to change your working days? What will you be teaching? Will the schedule from School A be available in time to arrange your schedule at School B?


Harassing Gaba clients can be blocked - Here is how:

Many instructors are not aware that clients can be blocked, and think that they simply have to put up with bad treatment. This impression leads to problems, particularly in regards to sexual harassment from clients.  

It is now well established that the quality of support that instructors receive when reporting incidents of sexual harassment is patchy at best. As such, the union brought it up as an issue in 2013 negotiations and has been pursuing the issue ever since.


General Union Gaba Branch appoints Sexual Harassment Officers

In response to a number of incidents where Gaba instructors had been sexually harassed by clients, the union decided to investigate the issue, and conducted a survey to gauge the prevalence. 


Protecting personal information at Gaba

The union had received reports that some Gaba staff have not been following the company’s procedures and protecting instructors' information adequately.


Gaba lesson record Mindflash training: "NOT mandatory"

In case instructors were wondering, despite the impression given by the latest MGI post on March 18th, the Mindflash training for the new lesson record system is not mandatory, and instructors cannot be forced to do it. If you receive any coercion to do so, please report it to the union so we can take up the case.


Additional information