News

Declaration of the 2015 Osaka Zenrokyo Annual General Meeting

As well as fighting to win every one of our disputes, let’s stand in opposition to the gutting of the Dispatch Act, to the Zero Overtime Bill, to the legislation of “collective self-defense”. Let’s stop the out-of-control rampage of the Abe government and the moneyed interests. Let’s fight to build a society where workers can have peace of mind.

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Honest Mistake? Thieves? Only Time Will Tell...

Recently, the GENERAL UNION was contacted for assistance in a matter involving a Kansai-based "International" Kindergarten and a not inconsiderable amount of unpaid salary owed to one of their former teachers.

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Takatsuki City and the Difference Between Truth and Lies

You may already know that the GENERAL UNION is now in the midst of a fight against the Takatsuki city government and Board of Education (BOE) on the issue of the rights of Assistant English Teachers (AET).

One of the issues is whether AETs are legally "employees" or not.

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On employers, lies and laws – more lessons from Takatsuki BoE

In a law-abiding country, everybody (without exception) should follow the law - even if you do not agree with it. However, the behavior of Takatsuki city officials and its BoE that AETs at Takatsuki have seen and experienced are very different from the actions of a law-abiding government.

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Kansai Gaidai Branch Spreads the News

The GENERAL UNION has had many battles, won many victories, solved many problems, and protected the rights of thousands of members and non-members alike throughout its long history.

A recent organizing leafleting at KANSAI GAIDAI University in Hirakata, Osaka, is further evidence of our resolve to continue to carry the fight onwards.

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Kun'ei teachers win computers and pay rises

First the computers. That's right. Computers. Four shiny new Apple computers for union members, after many years of having to supply their own. Our members couldn't believe their eyes when they were delivered. It's not something you usually see in the union news, but material conditions at work are things that the union can negotiate for and win. Often when members are sitting down to consider demands, especially when pay and other working conditions are not too bad, we often forget the physical environment in which we work. Bigger desks? Better lockers? Computers? Research funds? These are all things that you should consider, even though they are often considered to be 'non-traditional' demands, but they are things which can improve your work performance and your physical comfort at work.

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Survey Results - Gaba Corporation emergency preparation

Recently the GU branch did a survey about emergency preparations at Gaba to see how instructors felt about the situation. The results were alarming.

0% of instructors received emergency training during initial certification (training) at Gaba.

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Gaba Home Study – Client’s Perspective is NOT mandatory

There has been some discussion about whether the current Mindflash training offered by Gaba is mandatory. While the GU believes that it is good for instructors to do training to help them teach as well as possible, the training is NOT mandatory.

Some instructors have been under the impression that it is, or that their schedule may be blocked if they do not do the training. This is not the case, and if instructors have any problems they are most welcome to contact the union about this.

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The ultimate ECC mediation FAQ: What is mediation, anyways??

1. What happens at mediation?

The union, the company, and members of the Labor Commission will meet, both together and separately to discuss our demand for a 5% pay raise. There are three mediators, a labour-side, company-side, and public commissioner. Often they will move back and forth between the company and the union with different proposals. Sometimes they may even offer their own proposal to both parties.

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GENERAL UNION helps Osaka CNET win Workers Accident Insurance

Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, in any place, and they can happen to you. However, if an accident happens to you while you're at work, there is something you can do about it.

A  CNET, directly employed by Osaka City Board of Education, suffered a sudden and unexpected injury while working at school, and had to learn about accidents and the laws about accident compensation the hard way.

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Has Your Company Banned Your Laptop?

In Miyagi Prefecture, one major dispatch company has been informing its High School instructors that the Miyagi Prefectural Board of Education has told them that ALTs are NOT permitted to take their personal laptop (or tablets, etc) to their assigned schools.

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Lessons learned in the fight at Takatsuki Board of Education

On Tax

Although we are now in the midst of the fight against Takatsuki BoE, the union and AETs have learned various concrete lessons in this fight of more than a year. Some of these lessons will be of help foreign and Japanese workers alike. For this purpose, we will share these lessons one by one. This time, about tax.

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Ritsumeikan University changes part-time employment system

ContractRitsumeikan University has decided to make major changes to its part-time employment system. The revised  Labour Contract Renewal law that was passed in 2012 gives, limited term contract workers who have been employed continuously for over five years from April 2013,  the right to an unlimited contract if the worker requests it. 

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Great Wage Survey completed - Have a look!

Download it in pdf at www.bit.ly/greatwagesurvey

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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