A win at No Borders International School

Having asked their employer to enroll them in health & pension (shakai hoken) and unemployment insurance, teachers became frustrated when No Borders insisted that teachers pay ridiculously high premiums. The premiums were so inflated that we suspect No Borders was attempting to have teachers pay the company's part of the premiums.


The 19 minute question

In the past, ECC teachers punched in and out using time cards. With the introduction of the IC system, teachers touching in or out, outside of the permitted time frame (19 minutes), results in a "system error". These “system errors” are not errors, but system flags that require a decision on whether to pay overtime.


Job security at ECC...coming soon??

The General Union's campaigning for job security at ECC has seen some major changes. From this spring ECC will begin to introduce a system that allows some teachers to become seishain. Native teachers now have the opportunity to be promoted to seishain with recommendations from their supervisors.


Take the Annual ECC Teachers' Survey

It's that time of year - time to take the Annual ECC Teacher's Survey. What do you think about the new SD evaluation? Are you happy with your salary increase? Many ECC employees get bonuses,shouldn't teachers? There's also controversy!


General Union Gaba Branch Hanami

Following on from the Christmas party held in December last year, the branch decided to hold a Hanami party in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. It was the first event of this type that the branch had held, and despite some worrying weather in the days beforehand, the day itself was warm and sunny.


Pay Negotiations at ECC

In line with ECC's improved financial state, the General Union submitted an across the board 10 percent pay raise demand for instructors.

From the beginning, ECC rejected the percentage increase submitted by the union but said they were prepared to offer pay increases for 2013. Pay raises will be based on individual performance and vary depending on district performance.


Job Security for ECC teachers

Winning enrollment in shakai hoken "Employees' Health and Pension" was a huge victory for members working at ECC providing them and their families with the protection that it is standard for full time workers. More teachers are now staying at ECC longer, but job security is limited to a one-year contract.


Gaba Assures Union: "We are Determined To Improve Working Conditions"

On Monday March 5th 2013 the General Union Gaba branch held our first collective bargaining session of the year with Gaba.

Five members and three union representatives attended, and we made it clear that we expected improvements, and ultimately, the company said that they were "determined to improve conditions" for instructors, and that they were considering increasing the TNT bonus and the per lesson pay rate.


It’s a matter of dignity – Opinion Piece

I work at one of the "better" high schools. It is that is basically a feeder school to a few universities in the Kansai region. As a part-timer, or hijokin in Japanese, I am treated well enough. I'm even enrolled in health and pension insurance.

All that changed this week as I attempted to prepare for the new semester. With a rebuilding program almost completed, we moved into new classrooms and offices.


Wearing jackets – What you said

Back in December we asked the question "Does wearing a jacket make you a better teacher?" In 2 months we had a total of 138 respondents and the answer was a resounding "No". All 138 people said that jackets have no bearing on the quality of teaching.


YOUR rights are at risk!

ECC wants to restrict your private lives, and dictate who you can socialize with. Your personal rights are endangered. Now’s a good time to support yourself and your colleagues in fighting for our basic human rights. Being a member protects YOU and your working conditions. Say NO to ECC management’s proposed “no-socialization with students” policy. The union is concerned that you could be disciplined, non-renewed or even fired for:


Berlitz - Report of November collective bargaining

1. CTL Courtesy Calls
We have been told that MIs will be asked to inform the office staff to tell teachers about CTLs when possible. We wish to see if this is happening. Please let us know if you are not informed about your CTLs.


Bettering life at Berlitz since 1993

Did you know that many of the working conditions that teachers now enjoy have been negotiated between the General Union and Berlitz?


Berlitz collective bargaining - November 2012

  1. A courtesy call when lessons are cancelled late. We have been told that ISs will be asked to inform the staff to tell teachers about CTL lessons when possible. We wish to see if this is happening. Please let us know if you are not informed about your CTLs.

2. Allowing all teachers to participate in training seminars and workshops. ISs will be informed to let all teachers know about upcoming training and to allow teachers to participate if it fits into the LC’s training budget. Let us know if you’re being informed.


Berlitz union wins raise, bonus in suit settlement (Japan Times)

¥110 million claim against teachers, union execs dropped, ending four-year fight

The four-year legal battle between management and teachers at Berlitz Japan was declared over Thursday as both sides signed an agreement to end the company's lawsuit against union officials.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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(@)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Gaba Union Branch Demands

Our demands are simple: Improve our working conditions


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.


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?


Additional information