News

NOVA's New Teacher Evaluations Get An "F"

In September, NOVA launched a system in which teachers are evaluated by instructor managers (IM) and instructor support managers (ISM) under supposedly objective criteria. The system seems like it was hurriedly put together, and appears to be a malicious attempt to institutionalize company bullying by punishing teachers that management doesn't like for personal reasons.

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GABA & NOVA Independent Contracting - It's Not Just A Japan Thing

"Independent Contracting" at Gaba and Nova is putting the working conditions of all English teachers, both those in the eikaiwa and university sectors, in danger. In private talks , some of the larger language school chains have complained that Gaba effectively saves 30% on labor costs by falsely categorizing instructors as independent contractors and denying them paid annual leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. This strategy has had a ripple effect, with one Kansai university claiming its teachers are independent contractors.

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On That Day, Thirteen Years Ago...

The year was 2002. Kelly Clarkson won the first ever American Idol Contest, the United Kingdom mourned the passing of the Queen Mother, Japan was basking in the afterglow of the Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup, and Star Wars Episode II was disappointing fans around the world.

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A New Fight For Shakai Hoken At NOVA

It is no secret that NOVA has, for many years, vehemently avoided enrolling its employees in Shakai  Hoken (Employee’s Health and Pension Insurance) in order to save money by not having to contribute half of the insurance premium costs.

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The Conundrum of Confiscating Cellphones at Kansai International Academy

Here in the General Union office, we have a short (but often accurate) adage that states: "Beware of any school that has the word "International" anywhere in its name".

Given what we know of Kansai International Academy (inclusive of Kansai International School and Sakura International School), it would appear that our precept is accurate once more. If nothing else, they certainly seem to have a reputation that would qualify them for such a dubious honour.

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New member Orientations - Starting November 22

After a long break (and many questions), we have decided to restart our Member Orientation Program. This time around, we will be offering them by Skype, or in person at the Osaka office. This program will generally be on a Sunday evening - but, with Skype, we can be flexible.

Just joined the union and have questions? We'll cover these topics, and more:

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Otemon - Language Education Without Language Teachers

Otemon Gakuin High School is presently trying to non-renew all of its native speaker language teachers, using the excuse of a change in the curriculum.

We believe that this is because they wish to avoid giving these teachers permanent contracts under the revised Labour Contract Law from April 2018.

The General Union will vigorously oppose this attack.

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October 16 is almost here - Interac ALTs should lodge their concerns

As the General Union has reported, Interac Co. Ltd has announced an "absorption-type split agreement" that - as of January 1st, 2016 - will see it split into six subsidiary companies (view the full article here).

It is becoming clear to the General Union that this announcement, seemingly timed as a reaction to the recent revisions to the dispatch, and other labor laws that would directly affect the company, is designed not as a means by which to "position ourselves to manage the growth in the market", but as a way to evade legal obligations that they would otherwise soon be subject to.

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Why Is October 16th So Important To Interac?

In the midst of the General Union writing an article about Interac's recently announced "absorption-type split agreement" six regional companies, Interac has suddenly and unexpectedly sent time-sensitive letters to employees asking them to accept the changes that will come into effect on January 1st, 2016, or to lodge an objection by October 16th.

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Gaba Corporation to run emergency drills

After the union repeatedly raising the issue of disaster preparation Gaba Corporation is holding drills at 14 Learning Studios across Japan in the next few months. The drills are paid at the rate of two non-peak lessons.

This number of drills is a big improvement from 2014, when the company did none, and from 2013, when it did seven.

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Executive Committee 2015

Andrew H. (Branch Chair)

I am from California, USA, and have been working as an instructor at Nova since November of 2010. I currently work at various schools between Kobe and Osaka.

I joined the union and declared my membership in the summer of 2014, out of a sense of malaise that the company neither had any sense of direction nor placed any value in the happiness of its employees. I look forward to meeting everyone of you, and showing you how we can achieve great things by working together.

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Fired? Here's What Some Union Members Did About It

In 2013, two employees of Nippon Steel, who had worked for the company for almost two decades, unexpectedly discovered that their contract with the company would not be renewed as part of "internal restructuring" - "restructuring" that, in reality, was just business jargon for "fire veteran employees and save money by hiring people to do the same job for less salary".

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Gaba Hides Client Sexual Harassment, Punishes Instructors

There is a Gaba client who was blocked from taking lessons from several female instructors for harassing them. Despite this, the company has refused to discontinue the client’s contract, has removed the 'special circumstances' note highlighting his behaviour from his file, and has repeatedly deleted comments inputed by an instructor who had been harassed by the client. They have gone so far as to give her a written warning for her actions.

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The Reality of Convenience Stores

Recently, Seven-Eleven Japan notified the Chair of the Japan Association of Convenience Store Franchisee's Union (the "Konbini Kamei-ten Yunion", or "CU"), a union comprised of convenience store operators and employees, that it would refuse to renew his contract with the company, effectively firing him. This action has shocked the members of the CU, who have decried it as "blatant union-busting".

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Nova Manager Apologizes After Official Union Complaint

Recently, drama erupted at NOVA after a student accused a teacher - a member of the General Union - of being involved in a torrid affair with another NOVA staff member. The accusation was baseless, as no relationship of a romantic nature existed between the teacher and the member of staff. However, the way that NOVA handled the situation left much to be desired.

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Absences or lateness due to typhoon weather

The union has been asked about this issue. Over this week there was very heavy rain across Japan making travel in some areas dangerous due to the passing typhoons. The union believes that instructors shouldn't be penalised because of any lateness or absences due to this extreme weather.

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Emergency Drills To Be Held At GABA "More Often"

At GABA, the last evacuations practised at learning studios were conducted two years ago, at only a small number of locations, with few instructors taking part.

While there are posters in Learning Studios advising what to do in the event of a disaster, there has been little real education or preparation to give instructors experience in knowing what to do or how to handle the situation when - not if - an earthquake occurs.

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Privacy Protection - Companies: Think Before You Click

At the end of August, 2015, a "Head Teacher" of one of the largest dispatch companies in Japan sent out a newsletter in which he pasted the e-mail address of every recipient into the "TO:" field instead of the "CC:" field, thus revealing the private e-mail addresses of everyone that the e-mail was intended for to everyone who received it.

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We Just Won A Refrigerator! (Seriously!)

As you may know, the General Union is comprised of many different branches. One of these branches is our Shinobu Branch, representing workers who are employed by Shinobu Foods Products Co., Ltd. which - as their name suggests - manufactures and sells food products in Japan.

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Computers In The Workplace - Poll Results

On July 30th, the GENERAL UNION reported that it had won a salary increase and new computers for its members at Osaka Kun-ei Women's College. ("Kun'ei Teachers Win Computers and Pay Rise": http://tinyurl.com/pngfjuh)

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ECC Mediation Update 2015/08/25

 

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Issues@LCs

Something not right at your LC? Do you think there is something happening that needs to be reported? Is it important enough to let everyone know about it? Here is the place. Just send an email to mcvay(@)generalunion.org (remove brackets). We will contact you and go from there.  

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes... Teacher Turnover at Berlitz

What is a company's most important asset? Is it the cash in its bank account? Nope, not even close! How about the building or location that a company is located in? Sorry, no dice! What about the company's president? Even they are nowhere near as important to a company’' success when compared to its employees.

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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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Additional information