News

The View From Ecc Branch: "One Of The Most Inspiring Moments Of My Life"

On April 21st, 2016, in the wake of a number of failed negotiations, stalling tactics, and a string of unsubstantial concessions that amounted to little more than lip-service, the ECC Branch of the General Union decided that the time had come to send a clear message to the company by going on strike.

Read more...

Caveat Subscriptor: EngoEnglish.com

With the recent rise in “Uber-style” services, and the up-tick in companies attempting to use social media applications in the workplace in an attempt to make themselves seem "trendy", it should come as no surprise that there are people in Japan who see this trend and wonder: "how can I use something like this to make money at the expense of naive but well-meaning foreigners?"

One answer to that question is yet another suspect "student introduction service": EngoEnglish.com

Read more...

Time for a pay rise at ECC!

We demand ¥100 per hour special pay increase!

The General Union—ECC branch submitted this demand in January. 

That’s about ¥600 per day which is just over ¥12,000 a month. 

ECC has gone years without making an adjustment to members' basic salary and we think that this is the year that they will need to make sure our salaries don’t keep falling behind.

Read more...

Altia Central

This is an important message. Please spread it.

In recent negotiations Altia Central has admitted they have been breaking the paid annual leave law for many years. The union demanded that the company pay all current 285 ALTs financial compensation. Altia has refused. And instead, they are trying to institute a "worker's rep election" to try and fool people about their rights.

The union will not let this matter drop and will push for prosecution if the company does not compensate teachers.

Email union(@)generalunion.org for more details.

 

Can't get no satisfaction.....at Berlitz

The classic song by the Rolling Stones expresses the recent mood at Berlitz perfectly.

Remember taking the Employee Satisfaction Survey a few months ago? Well, the results send a very clear message!

Overall Job Satisfaction is down to only 34%!!! That’s a full 9% lower than the already low score of 43% from last year (even though we have more employees now). In plain English, and without any distracting numbers, that means the considerable majority of employees (Instructors, Staff, and Managers alike) at Berlitz are not happy with the current situation and operational practices. But most people knew that already.

Read more...

Peppy Dispute Comes To A Close

The first article written about the General Union and Peppy Kids Club ("Working At Peppy Kids Club?") was written on May 17th, 2012. Since that time, much has been done to create better working conditions for everyone involved - much to the dismay of management.

We've borne witness to the formation of the Peppy Kids Club Branch; demanded that the company follow the law and provide working rules as per Article 106 of the Labor Standards Act; pressed the company to provide unemployment insurance; tackled the company's unenforceable confidentiality agreements; and butted heads several times over the company's insistence on making employees pay for their own business-related travel expenses up front and out of their own pocket.

In December of 2012, Peppy Kids Club retaliated by firing the Chair of the Peppy Kids Branch of the General Union. The company attempted to dismiss this action as a non-renewal of contract due to poor performance.

Suffice to say, the General Union took swift action. ("Peppy Kids Club Fires Branch Chair - Union Moves Into Action")

Read more...

Union Secures Extra Leave Time For Osaka Gaigo Members


A growing interest amongst Japanese one-year contract teachers at Osaka Gaigo has led the General Union to some interesting negotiations...

While we've had a union branch at Osaka Gaigo for the past fifteen or so years, we had never considered demanding extra leave time like the kind given to the regular employees (both teachers and staff) - but thanks to some extra sleuthing by one Japanese member, the union was able to submit demands to the employer asking for this extra leave time.

We submitted the demand to the employer thinking that we wouldn't be able to win the same rights as the regular employees - but, surprisingly, they agreed!

Read more...

How Much Does A BoE Pay For An ALT Lesson?

From the Fukuoka General Union:

BOE sub-contracts out Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) work to dispatch companies, who in turn employ ALTs? A simple sum to work out how much Fukuoka City BOE pays per lesson, using documents obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI). ALTs are the only teachers that are "procured" by tender bid, but are treated as a "service" rather than a teacher.


Read more...

Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #2 Paying To Use The Classroom

Nova charges ID Contract teachers 100 yen per lesson to use the same lesson booth a regular teacher uses for free. Why?

Read more...

Your Rights and Amity Housing - My Story

I work at Amity and I recently cancelled my housing contract with the company, while keeping my job. Fortunately, this paradox did not destroy the fabric of space-time.

When I first asked my Manager about finding a new apartment, she told me that the company-provided accommodations were non-negotiable. I was disappointed, but did my best to make the place habitable. It was much smaller than I was used to. There was no kitchen, just a hallway with a fridge, a sink and one lonely burner. Although I disliked my apartment, I figured there wasn’t anything I could do, since I’d already been told no.

Read more...

ECC: Join The Union, And Help Fight For A Pay Rise For Everyone

Download our new "Time for a Pay Rise" leaflet.

We've proven that, when we come together, we can make many changes at ECC.

We've been around as a union, in one form or another, since 1995, and have been leaders in winning benefits for both union and non-union members. If someone tells you that they won't negotiate with a union, tell them that they have, and they do.

What has the union won for you? Paid, flexible ALPs; unemployment insurance; health and pension insurance; pay rises; a Kanto living allowance; and these are just the big things.

Read more...

Caveat Subscriptor: World Kinder Interational School, Takasaki

While many may be aware of the Latin term of "caveat emptor" (meaning "buyer beware"), there is another term that you might not be aware of that is very apt in the context of reading contracts: Caveat Subscriptor - Signer Beware.

Although Japanese business owners are known to treat worker rights with some degree of contempt, it is often the case that foreign owners are even worse. Be it due to ignorance of labor laws, a lack of understanding of the culture, or just a general feeling that they are above the law due to not being Japanese, many of the worse problems that foreign employees face come from other foreigners.

This is one of those cases: beware of World Kinder International School, Takasaki.

Read more...

Olympic's Minister Endo "Not Aware" Of Fake Subcontracting

As the "donations-for-favors" scandal between the office of Olympic's Minister Endo Toshiaki and Interac Co. Ltd continues to brew, Mr Endo has claimed that he knew nothing about the directives that the Ministry of Education (MEXT) has issued to countless Boards of Education over the years, reiterating that the use of gyōmu itaku (outsourced sub-contracting) contracting in schools is (a) illegal, and that (b) Boards of Education should seek to directly hire foreign teachers.

Read more...

Takatsuki Opts For Alienation Instead Of Reconciliation

In the weeks and months since the scandal broke, both unions and citizens of Takatsuki alike have urged the mayor of the city to restart the beleaguered AET program.

The enduring fight waged by Takatsuki AET union members has gone so far as to involve the city of Toowoomba in Australia - the city which recruited and sent the AETs to Takatsuki in the first place.

Read more...

Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) in Japan - Below The Poverty Line

From the Fukuoka General Union:

This is an actual example on how impossible it is to live on the salary of a dispatched ALT working at a Kitakyushu City Board of Education public school. Though they are full time teachers, they only have 1000 yen a day to spend on food, and nothing else. They just can't survive on this low wage.
 
 

 

Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #1: The Non-Competition Clause

When you're offered both an independent contract and an employment contract, you might think that the independent one offers you more freedom. After all, doesn't the word "independent" imply that you're a freelance tradesman, free to practice your skills for anyone you like?

Read more...

Nova Group Action Suit – Independent Contracts

The union executive recently voted to fund a group action suit against Nova to end “Independent Contracts” and to seek compensation for lost benefits for those teachers either tricked or forced onto one of these contracts.

Since their inception over a year ago, the General Union has believed Nova’s “Independent Contracts” to be illegal. Consultations with lawyers have confirmed our beliefs. Initially we had hoped that we would be able to negotiate with Nova to phase out the system but they are hell bent on sticking with it, denying teachers paid annual leave, workers accident insurance, unemployment insurance, health & pension benefits, and paid maternity and childcare leave.

Read more...

What Nova Doesn't Tell New Hires - pension & health insurance

According to the law, all residents of Japan must be enrolled in two things: public health insurance and national pension.

Public health insurance for people who aren't enrolled in the employee system (more on that later) is provided through Kokumin Kenko Hoken (National Health Insurance), which is funded nationally but administered by local governments. Application is done at the local city hall, or ward office in the case of large cities. Premiums are paid monthly, and are around ¥2,000 for the first year, after which they are adjusted according to reported income. For people on an average teacher salary, they rise to around ¥20,000 per month.

Read more...

Noteworthy Quotes

 

 

Make 2016 a year of struggle! Let each union share their experience and together fight the good fight

2015, a year that will surely mark the start of a new era, is over. A new year has begun. This year even more than last, the Abe Government--based on that market fundamentalism they call “neo-liberalism”--is working on gutting the Constitution in order to push forward with military development jointly with the United States. When we look at the recent loosening of labor regulations, it looks just like some primitive kind of capitalism has come back to life, as if policy is now being made solely from the point of view of capital.

Read more...

Nova Recruitment Drive - ¥1000 for First Three Months

The General Union is preparing for significant industrial action at Nova. In order to build up our strength, we’re making a special, limited-time offer to new members currently working at Nova: dues of only ¥1000 inclusive for the first three months of membership.

If interested, please fill out our online application form and be sure to indicate Nova as your workplace, and a representative will contact you shortly. Once your ¥1000 payment is received, you won’t have to make another payment until three months later.

 Let’s band together to start winning improvements at Nova!

Berlitz – Members’ Solidarity Wins Extra Pay

dfdfIn has been a long road since Berlitz unilaterally set out to solve a problem that the General Union has long complained about.

Like many other companies, Berlitz has never paid teachers for the time they spend working between lessons.

While teachers have been compensated for their teaching time, the company failed to understand that this time is often used for preparing things, such as planning their next lesson, preparing textbooks, writing reports, and discussing issues with other teachers and members of staff.

Read more...

Union chair in the news. Asahi newspaper. 9 January 2016. Osaka-jin #8

Dennis Tesolat (45). Chair of a labor union with mostly foreign workers. Boldly protecting his fellow workers.

Collective bargaining and even court, while struggling with disease.

“Cheerful, loud – I love Osakans,” he laughs out speaking in Osaka dialect, swinging his large body in his wheelchair.

Mr. Dennis Tesolat, an Italian-Canadian, is 45 years old and lives in Asahi Ward in Osaka City.

Read more...

For Japan’s English teachers, rays of hope amid the race to the bottom--Japan Times

A very decent article from the Japan Times covering the "eikaiwa" industry published on 7 January 2016 which also covers a lot of work the General Union has done to win improvements.

We must note that there is a small error in the part about Berlitz. The union's recent victory did not include any back pay.

Read more...

Failing To Think Before Clicking, Heart Coporation Leaks E-Mail Address

On December 7th, in a bizarre and unsolicited e-mail, Heart Corporation / Heart English School carelessly revealed the private e-mail addresses of numerous people - many of whom appear to have never actually worked for the company or, in the case of the union member who passed this information along, left the company several years ago.

Read more...

Nova Finally Issues Sexual Harassment Policy

After repeated delays, Nova finally gave a solid reply to our request for a clear, written sexual harassment policy, which we had asked for in August. According to Nova, instructor complaints will be handled immediately by the Head Office, Customer Consulting section in the General Affairs Department. Students deemed in violation will have their contracts terminated, and employees in violation will be dealt with according to internal company guidelines. Said guidelines had only existed in Japanese until recently, but Nova made an English translation which they sent to us and promised to make available to all instructors. We intend to hold Nova to their promises.

Read more...

Through Union Pressure, Waseda University Retracts Five-Year Employment Limit

As the General Union has previous reported ("Ritsumeikan University Changes Part-Time Employment System"), a number of universities have adopted employment "limits" on limited-term, part-time employees in an effort to prevent them from applying for unlimited-term contracts after five years of continuous employment, as directed by the revised  Labour Contract Renewal Law of 2012.

One of the universities that adopted this spurious policy was Waseda University (早稲田大学, Waseda Daigaku), which Wikipedia states is considered to be "one of Japan's most prestigious universities, consistently ranking amongst the top universities in Japanese university rankings. The university has many notable alumni in Japan, with seven Prime Ministers of Japan and many CEOs, including Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of UNIQLO."

Read more...

Complete victory in IES court case over shakai hoken

On November 7th, 2015, a union member's suit against his employer, International Education Services (IES), was settled in court mediation with the member winning each point he sued for. ("IES Sued Over Failure To Enrol In Shakai Hoken").

Foreign workers are often lead to believe that they are not eligible for shakai hoken (Employee's Health and Pension Insurance), or that - since they don't want the pension - they are better off with only kokumin kenkō hoken (Nation Health Insurance (NHI), via their local municipal office). Well, we hope this story will make you think again!

Read more...

NSSI unfair dismissal case settled in mediation

It has been over one year since we helped and supported some of our members in their efforts to sue Nippon Steel Sumikin Intercom (NSSI) over their dismissal after 19 years of work, but the General Union is pleased to announce that the case has finally been settled. ("Fired? Here's What Some Union Members Did About It"; "Suing Nippon Steel - Update")

Read more...

Nova's New Year Memo

Did you see today's memo? Buried at the bottom of the memo, you will notice the most important part – taking time off is NOT compulsory.

If you do not want to, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE leave - paid or unpaid - or organize a shift swap. You have the RIGHT TO WORK, and NOVA recognizes this (now).

Read more...

Additional information