News

ECC teachers demand job security, pay rises

Branch members at ECC have submitted demands for unlimited term contracts for those seeking more permanent type employment, contract completion bonuses for those who are on one year contracts and a 10% pay increase for all teachers.

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Does wearing a jacket make you a better teacher?

Some language schools, including AEON and Gaba, have policies that either require teachers to wear a jacket, or at least heavily encourages it. ECC even tried to link salary increases to wearing a jacket, however, through negotiations members were able to have "wearing a jacket" removed from their evaluations.

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Peppy Kids Club fires branch chair - union moves into action

After eight years of service, the chair of our newly formed union branch at Peppy English Kids Club has been fired for union activity. The company will claim it is a simple case of “contract non-renewal” for poor performance amongst other things, but after eight years and eight consecutive contracts, the union strongly believes it is an illegal firing under Japanese Trade Union Law.

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Ex-Nova language school founder Sahashi's two-year prison term finalized

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the founder and former president of the language school chain Nova Corp. against his conviction for embezzling ¥320 million from employee benefit funds, effectively finalizing his two-year prison term.

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Being an ALT in Japan - The Video Handbook

The General Union is producing a video handbook for working in Japan as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). We'll be covering topics such as taxes, health insurance, housing, and workplace issues.

Feel free to email us if you would like your questions answered alt(@)generalunion.org.

Berlitz demands submitted for collective bargaining

Union members at Berlitz sent seven new demands for collective bargaining to Berlitz Japan this week.

Demands include:

1. A courtesy call when lessons are cancelled late.
Teachers are now paid for these CTL (cancelled too late) classes, but because teachers don't always teach their lessons in a row, they may end up at school at 8AM just to find the class cancelled and their next class not until noon.

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Peppy Kids Club Confidentiality Agreement

iTTTi Japan recently asked Japanese teachers at Peppy Kids Club to sign a confidentiality clause that we believe to be invalid, with some clauses bearing little likelihood of being enforceable.

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ECC Union News October 2012

Halloween Costumes ECC has agreed to provide basic Halloween costumes at all schools. The union has asked ECC to explain what will be provided by October 20. ECC has sent all schools an email advising them that costumes should be available. If your schools are not providing a costume please contact the union.

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Working in an elementary, junior, senior high school?

For many years the General Union has organised workers at private elementary, junior and senior high schools. In the recent period the situation in many of these workplaces has become dire and we have had many consultations and requests for help from teachers. While as a union we have been able to win individual victories and defend conditions for groups of our members, working conditions have continued to deteriorate for teachers across the sector.

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Berlitz teachers get ready for new demands!

Berlitz teachers in the Kansai and Tokai areas are continuing consultations with union members to gear up for a new round of demands and negotiations.

At this point most of the demands focus around workplace issues that make teachers' working lives a little easier.

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Panasonic teachers keep their eye on the ball

After an important round of bargaining in July of this year where some important promises were made by the employer to the union, members are undeterred to still improve their economic situation.

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Tokai Branch Meeting & Elections - Oct 14

Members of the Tokai Branch are requested to attend our branch meeting as follows. The first part of the meeting, at 1:30pm, will include general business such as elections.

It will be followed by a Workplace Rights Q & A Workshop at 3pm. It is open to members and the general public.

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Gaba Union Branch Demands

Our demands are simple: Improve our working conditions

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What you're missing out on

Go to any GABA orientation and they're quick to point out to you the freedom of picking your own working hours and choosing your own holidays. They don't underline the clear fact that even though you can pick your own schedule (as part timers do in any job) they have no obligation to you to provide lessons or pay during that time. In fact your open schedule allows GABA to sell a wide range of lesson availability to students without having to pay for this drawing card.

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What can you do?

The General Union has made real improvements in the working conditions of teachers at other schools, such as ECC and YMCA. While it is true we are all free to look for another job, most likely it will be another job with little security or benefits, and with a similar set of problems. So why not play a part to make Gaba a better place to work for everyone - you, me and the instructors who will come after us?

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How do your conditions compare?

We've heard many complaints from GABA teachers regarding their wages, and let's face it, ¥1500 for 40 minutes' work is not much money in an industry and company that makes money.

Do GABA teachers enjoy the same pay and other fringe benefits? Let's examine.

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Support your Japanese coworkers

As many of you know, working conditions at Peppy Kids Club are much worse for JTs than they are for NTs. Their salaries are much lower, they work longer hours, they don't even get unemployment insurance. And from October, things are getting worse.

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ALTs Open Meeting - October 21

For the first time, we are opening our Osaka October General Meeting to non-members.

We will be holding a series of seminars, or workshops, about the law and workers' rights. There will also be a meeting aimed specifically for ALTs. It is open to members and non-members alike.

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ALTs - Have you received a health check?

Some dispatch companies, but not all, provide annual health checks. Japan has one of the highest rates of tuberculous in the western world, and as a result, School Health & Safety Law mandates that teachers must be tested yearly.

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Small but important issues solved at Peppy Kids Club

It is often the small things that make our working lives difficult. That was the case for teachers in some areas at PKC. After the first round of negotiations, we are happy to announce that two issues have been solved.

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Members Demand Peppy Obey Article 106 of the Labor Standards Law

So what is Article 106?

The law basically states that companies must have a set of working rules (Shugyo Kisoku). These rules must be registered with the Labor Standards Office, and they must be available for workers to peruse in their workplace. These rules are usually more in-depth than the rules written into your contract or guidelines the company give you. They include things such as how to apply for vacation or special leave, and rules for the punishment, fining, or dismissal of employees.

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Report on negotiations at Peppy Kids

In July, when the union applied for the first round of negotiations, we were a little taken aback when a response came from the company’s lawyer. While they accepted collective bargaining on the company’s behalf, it is unusual for companies to bring in lawyers so quickly. Generally, companies want to get a feel for the union and what members want before they bring lawyers along for legal advice.

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Coolbiz: A Health Hazard?

Most workers welcome the introduction of Coolbiz, and the relaxed summer dress codes. It was a buzz work for work efficiency and economic stimulus during Junichiro Koizumi’s reign as Prime Minister. However, times have now changed and the majority of businesses have implemented Coolbiz as part of setsuden, (energy saving measures), and offices are no longer cool.

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Osaka Information Meeting - Peppy Kids

More and more people, Japanese and native teachers alike, are contacting us about the union. We will be holding a series of open meetings so people can hear more about the union and what our aims are. It will also be a chance for you ask questions and give input about how you would like to see working conditions at PKC improve.

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Nagoya Information Meeting - Peppy Kids

More and more people, Japanese and native teachers alike, are contacting us about the union. We will be holding a series of open meetings so people can hear more about the union and what our aims are. It will also be a chance for you ask questions and give input about how you would like to see working conditions at PKC improve. Contact us if you would like a meeting in your area.

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Taking back our rights! Open meeting for school teachers

For many years the General Union has had members at Elementary, Junior High and High Schools. More recently, the situation has become dire with a large number of consultations from private schools in particular. The falling number of school age students has led to a savage competition between schools, in particular private schools. School administrations have attempted to compete by-and-large by asking for longer hours and more commitment from teachers, while at the same time often worsening pay and conditions.

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Union launched at Peppy Kids Club

While Peppy Kids Club doesn’t have the national profile of some other players in the language industry, they have been on the union’s radar for quite a few years. They are an expanding chain with over 400 native English-speaking teachers and more than 1600 Japanese teachers. They have classrooms all across Japan and almost 100,000 students.

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ECC teachers demand permanent contracts

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ECC typhoon: Not safe for students, but safe for staff?

Workplace health and safety is a General Union priority. While most workplace accidents at language schools are minor, we as workers must not become complacent. We have the right to expect that our employers will do their utmost to protect our safety at work and while traveling to and from work.

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Letter from America about Peppy Kids

I am no longer an employee of Peppy Kids. However, it warms my heart that there is such action being taken to create a worker's union. I am an American citizen back in America now, but I still very much love Japan. I left Peppy Kids club, but I strongly feel that if there was a union in place, me and other people that I know would still be actively employed with Peppy Kids. As an American, I know that many Americans take for granted the progresses that were made as a result of union interventions in the U.S. workplace throughout history.

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