News

Union Launches Group Action Lawsuit Against NOVA

In the past, we've spoken in detail about the numerous ways that some English Conversation schools exploit contracted teachers in order to "have their cake AND eat it".

As we've noted, they accomplish this by asserting that said contracted teachers are not REAL employees, but are ACTUALLY just freelance individuals who are "providing a service" to the company. Suffice to say, we are vehemently against this practice.

However, it's important to note that our stance against issue not just rhetoric. As a matter of fact, we're actually doing something about this situation:

We're taking NOVA to court over it.

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Don't Forget - Autumn General Meeting

 

Next Sunday - Autumn General Meeting

This year we are proposing changes to both our constitution and By-laws. These changes are to reflect the reality that we are not just an Osaka based union but have members in many other regions in Japan.

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Takatsuki Board of Education Reprimanded For Unfair Labor Practices And Anti-Union Behavior

At the height of the dispute between the former Takatsuki AETs and the Takatsuki Board of Education which had dismissed them for complaining about sub-standard housing conditions (prior to claiming that the AETs were never employees of the Board of Education to begin with), there was a particularly spiteful episode in which the Board of Education decided to turn a labor issue into a personal issue, reacting to the AETs labor actions by prohibiting them from attending their final graduation ceremonies.

At this point, all attempts at professionalism had been replaced with petty revenge, punishing both the teachers and their students by denying them from sharing in one of the most important events of a student's life together.

However, karma has a habit of catching up to everyone, regardless of their position in life...

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Of Lionrock And Needlessly Placing Teachers In Danger

On August 17th, 2016, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), began tracking a subtropical depression that soon evolved into a powerful and erratic tropical cyclone.

On August 29th, the cyclone - now named "Lionrock" - abruptly and unexpectedly changed course, placing it on an unprecedented path towards Japan's tsunami and earthquake ravaged Tōhoku region, with Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate prefectures in particular braced to feel the full brunt of Lionrock's power...

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Finally – Justice At Rainbow International

For months now, the General Union has been reporting about the situation at Rainbow International regarding cases of unpaid overtime and paid annual leave.

We last reported that the Labor Standards Office (LSO) was trying to close the case despite Rainbow failing to follow the LSO's order to pay compensation. In fact, for the last three months, the LSO officer in question has been calling our office as much as three times per day to get permission to close the case. Each time we responded with a strong refusal.

The problem was how to get the LSO to actually do their job...

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Kun'ei High School Demands 2017

Union members working at Kun'ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year.

We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed...

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Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

From The Archives: Youthful Adventures With Employment Term Limits In The 1990s

As is often the case with all things in life: sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. In this case, back in the 1990s, we landed somewhere in-between.

The Higashi-Osaka Board of Education had one of the earliest direct-hire programs in all of Japan (outside of JET, that is). It was, at the time, a great program; unfortunately, there was a one major problem: a 3-year term limit placed on employment AFTER teachers were employed.

Thus, in our infancy as a union, we set out to smash the term limit completely...

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Caveat Subscriptor: Seiha English Academy

It's not often that the General Union issues a "Caveat Subscriptor" warning, but given the recent number of enquiries and complaints that we have seen regarding Seiha English Academy, we decided that it would be in the public interest to advise people to perhaps think twice before deciding to work for this company.

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Sunday's Picnic - CANCELLED

With one service putting the chance of rain from 10am at 70% we have decided to cancel. It had better rain or those weather people are getting an ear full.

 

Berlitz instructors; Don't Complain! Join and Vote for new 2017 demands

We are inviting all current and NEW members to participate in our meeting on 2 October from 8pm and to vote on our next round of demands.

Members, new and current, can partiicpate in person at the union office or via skype. Even if you can't come out, you will be sent a link to vote on our new demands.

Here are the new demands that we are considering.

1. A pay rise for all contract instructors (amount to be discussed at the meeting).

2. Job and pay security for per lesson instructors (how will be discussed at the meeting).

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Kitakyushu BoE Bans Men!

In the midst of researching ALT working conditions at the Kitakyushu Board of Education, the Fukuoka General Union stumbled across a number of interesting documents via the Freedom of Information Act. Here's one, in particular, that made us quite unhappy...

In direct opposition to the law, the Board of Education has been caught demanding that a dispatch company replace the male ALT they were planning to send to the school with a female ALT, instead.

Their reasoning? They "had planned the curriculum on the premise of a female teacher coming to the school". This was a co-ed public school in Kitakyushu, and the school was willing to cancel classes until the male teacher was replaced.

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Rainbow International And Ineffective Bureaucracy

Back in August (2016), we reported that - because of union action - there had been an excellent ruling by the Chuo (Osaka) Labor Standards Office against Rainbow International School over its culture of unpaid overtime. Unfortunately, we may have pressed that "upload to website button" a little too quickly...

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An unofficial response to ECC

In the midst of our dispute with ECC, upper management sent a letter to all teachers disparaging the union by spreading lies about our campaign to win pay increases. As well as spreading lies, the company has committed another Unfair Labor Practice by doing so. Right now, at the request of ECC, we are in non-binding arbitration over across the board pay increases. If talks fail we will be suing the company over the letter.

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Senri International Campus Set To Close Saturday School?

At the end of March, 2016, teachers who work on the special programs at Kwansei Gakuin’s Senri International Campus ("Saturday School" and the summer vacation "Just for Kids" program) were told that these programs would be closed from the end of March, 2018.

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Berlitz Japan: automatic dues checkoff starts

This month we submitted our list of the first union members at Berlitz Japan who will be having their monthly union dues deducted directly from their salaries and submitted to the union by the company once per month. This is called a "dues checkoff system".

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No more duck and cover at Gaba

After requests from the General Union Gaba branch to improve emergency preparations, Gaba finally has an answer other than "duck and cover." From late July, Gaba Corporation is placing emergency supply boxes in all lesson booths in all Learning Studios across the country.

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General Union ECC Branch & Tokyo Roso ECC Foreign English Union: Together and fighting for a 100yen pay raise

This is the seventh story covering our struggle for a pay raise at ECC (see below for a complete list of stories). Feel free to download this as a leafletin PDF and send it on to your friends.

Why 100 YEN?

In a letter which the company will send to all teachers that has been shown to the union, ECC claims that the union is selfish and greedy. Basically they say that we only think about ourselves and not the company.

Well, we’re asking for  a 100 YEN pay raise for two reasons.

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More Unpaid Overtime At Rainbow International; More Action From The General Union

Dilbert © 2016 - Scott AdamsThe General Union has, in the past, locked horns with Rainbow International School over their culture of unpaid overtime. Indeed, as we wrote in our 2015-2016 union activity report:

"We have dealt with unpaid overtime here in the past and won payment. We are taking up the issue again this year but the person has left Japan and the company may not be so ready to settle. If not, it will be a good opportunity to use the Labor Standards Office and have an official order made.

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Illegal Contract Clauses Part V - James English School

James English School, established in 1976, is a "successful chain of English schools operating throughout Northern Japan". Spread across the Tohoku region, it "offers a wide range of classes, from Kids (2 years old and up) to Adults (Groups, Private Lessons, and Company Lessons)".

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Watami Unionized - Is that a good thing?

Watami (a chain of Japanese Izakaiya pubs) have recently made the Japanese newspapers over the announcement of a new union of 13,000 people. Only time will tell what that means. The major newspapers though, have failed to even attempt to analyze what the sudden appearance of such a large in-house union really means.

When a union of 13,000 suddenly appears, and has a compulsory membership placed upon employees... well, we have our doubts. 

One thing though - the agreement between the management and union, forced upon all employees, certainly promises a guaranteed income for the union.

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Union Victory As Osaka City University Withdraws Outsourcing Proposal

A few weeks ago, you may remember that the General Union intervened after sixteen part-time teachers at Osaka City University (OCU) discovered that, via sneaking a "final contract" clause into their contracts, the university planned on no longer directly hiring teachers, intending instead to outsource the teaching positions to a dispatch company. ("Osaka City University's Threat To Outsource Its Own Teachers Invokes Union Intervention")

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Amid Political And Social Turmoil After Upper-house Election, Osaka Zenrokyo To Hold 27th Regular General Meeting

On July 10th, three days from now, the outcome of the Upper House election will be decided. Will the LDP and Komeito (plus Osaka Ishin) forces for Constitutional revision win a two-thirds majority, or will the opposition hold out? It's impossible for mere mortals to predict.

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Teaching in a University or School? You May Already Know A General Union Member!

When people think of the General Union, many immediately associate it with our work in the language school industry at places like Berlitz, ECC, and Aeon.

Be that as it may, did you know that about half the General Union's membership is made up of teachers working in universities, high schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools? In our union, this is called the "Schools and Colleges" ("SAC") sector, and covers all of those people working in the aforementioned establishments.

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NOVA - "Let Them Eat Noodles!"

Echoing the (misattributed) words of Marie Antoinette, a NOVA manager recently told a group of NOVA teachers that, instead of complaining about the basic living allowance that they were receiving, they should just eat cup noodles.

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Berlitz Teachers: More Money; Fewer Classes. Brought To You By: The General Union. (Starts September 18th)

In a remarkable display of solidarity and strategy, Berlitz union members have made enormous gains for all instructors at Berlitz - both union and non-union.

The biggest gains:

  • A ¥90-per-40-minute-class pay increase for per lesson (PL) teachers. For a new teacher, this is a jump from ¥1920 per class to ¥2010; an almost 5% increase! (For our non-Berlitz friends: a "per lesson teacher" is kind of like an on-call part-timer, and a major pillar of the Berlitz workforce.)

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Strike Two At ECC

The General Union called for a new strike after the president of the ECC Foreign Language Institute (ECC外語学院; ECC Gaigo Gakuin) withdrew all offers which were being discussed to resolve our impasse at negotiations.

Eighty-one General Union members (nine more than there were during our first strike - proof that the movement is growing), along with more than fifty other union members in Tokyo, struck at ECC for a second day on June 25th, 2016, resulting in the closure of many ECC classes in the Kinki, Chubu, and Kanto areas.

Our demand was simple - a ¥100-per-hour pay rise for all union members.

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Takatsuki City fails to settle dispute , Case will go to final judgement

With the outcome looking bad for Takatsuki City, the Osaka Labor Relations Commission had proposed to Takatsuki City that they settle our Unfair Labor Practices case by agreeing with the union’s proposal to start talks with Toowoomba City to restart the AET program in line with Japanese employment laws.

Yesterday though, on June 17th, 2016, Takatsuki City told the Commission that they were refusing this proposal and that they are ready to wait for the ruling of Osaka Labor Relations Commission. Ridiculous enough, they also told Osaka Labor Relations Commission, “The friendship activities between two cities are going well EXCEPT the AET Ambassador Exchange Program.”

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Heart Corporation - Can My Company Tell Me What I'm Allowed To Eat?

We recently received this email from an ALT with Heart Corporation:

"My manager told me that I must sit and eat with students during their lunch period. I don’t mind as it is part of my job responsibilities but the manager said I have to eat the school lunch. Worse than that, when I checked the company manual, it said that I am not allowed to eat any outside food at all, even in the teachers’ room. Is this legal?"

Article 6.9 - "Aside from approved ALT-brought lunches, it is not acceptable to chew gum or eat outside food in the school at any time, including the teacher’s room."

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Additional information