News

The Precarious Position of the Part-time University Instructor [OP-ED]

For more than 26 years, I have called Japan home in which most of that time I have worked as a part-time university English instructor at various institutions, settling at three Kansai area schools for the past ten years or so.

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Shunto 2017 is about to start--are you ready?

Schedule finalized for rally, discussion, general action, and more

Feb. 9 Shunto Rally

The start of the 2017 Shunto in Osaka will be Union Network’s ‘17 Shunto Rally. A talk will be given on “The Background to the Movement Demanding the Resignation of South Korea’s President” by Kim Mitsuo (Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan).

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Seminar - Wills & Inheritances in Japan

Even "back home" there are hordes of people who fail to plan properly and make wills, creating havoc for families in the event of death. And here in Japan, there is probably a much higher percentage of us who don't think about it, or put it in the "too difficult to deal with basket".

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ALTInsider Interview With The General Union (Podcast)

Back in December (2016), the General Secretary of the General Union sat down (over Skype) with James Winovich, creator of ALTinsider.com, for a rare podcast interview.

If you're interested in the circumstances behind how our secretariat became involved in union activism, how the General Union operates, or various other tidbits of union information and trivia, be sure to give the podcast (embedded below the fold) a listen!

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Union's Planned Improvements At Berlitz For 2017

What do we have planned to keep improving Berlitz?

After our victory last year which saw a 90yen increase for per lesson instructors and a 10% lesson reduction for contract instructors, the union is plowing ahead with more demands for improvements. You can be part of this by joining the union. Our victories affect all employees and we hope that you join to make us even stronger.

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Illegal Contract Clauses (Part VI) - Shane English School (Vnet)

Shane English School - formerly "part of the global Saxoncourt Group", though now owned by the juku operator Eikoh in Japan - describes itself as "a world leader in the provision of high quality English courses and related services". With businesses "in the UK and Europe, East Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa", it "prides itself on its commitment to educational excellence".

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Doshisha: Final Warning Sent Over "Dues Checkoff" Demand

General Union members at Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School have been attempting to get their employer agree to a union "dues checkoff" system. This would allow union members to have their dues withdrawn directly from their monthly salaries.

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Union To Labour Standards Office: Stop Wage Theft At NOVA

Companies require you show up to work on time and - during the time you are being paid - give your attention to the job at hand. This is not only an expectation, however - they demand it of you, and will sanction you with pay cuts, fines, warnings, disciplinary actions, and dismissal, if you fail to live up to your end of the agreement.

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An Invitation To Submit OP-ED Articles And Have Your Say

Over the years, the General Union has played host to a handful of "OP-ED" articles written by members and non-members alike. For example, one of our most recent opinion articles - "The Myth of Low Cost Dispatching" - garnered quite a lot of attention on both Facebook and our website.

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Ashiya Gakuen - A Tale Of Dubious Behaviour, Mystery, And Intrigue

Ashiya Gakuen is composed of Ashiya University, Junior College, High School, Junior High School, and an attached Kindergarten. The university head-hunted Mr Oyagi, ex-rugby player and TV personality, to be Board Chairperson.

Soon, fraudulent accounting, the mixing of public and private matters, and improper use of assets began. Some people, including a head teacher at the High School blew the whistle alerting people. But Oyagi escalated the oppression of workers such as threatening and forcing some people to resign.

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Japanese for workers – lesson 1

You might have heard the term seishain (正社員) but have you heard the word sennin(専任)? And how are they different?

Both words refer to employment status and both indicate that the worker is a permanent employee, most likely entitled to bonuses (not always), and in some cases, in particular at “rich” companies, even a big lump sum of cash upon their retirement. Depending on the length of employment, this can be over 10,000,000 yen.

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The Myth of Low Cost Dispatching [Op-Ed]

One of the biggest arguments for the continued existence of dispatch companies (such as Altia Central, Interac, Joytalk, and Heart Corporation) is that it is "too expensive" for boards of education to directly hire people. The contention often goes that direct hire is a luxury that only the richest boards of education can afford; a position awarded to only the most experienced and trustworthy teachers in order to justify the high cost associated with such talent.

In contrast, dispatch companies provide ALTs "on the cheap"; they "create jobs" for people that would otherwise not exist were there no other options.

Or do they?

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Osaka CNETs Win Right To Use Health Insurance For Sick Days

The General Union branch organising Osaka City Native English Teachers (CNETS) has won a small victory in forcing the Osaka City Board of Education to accept the right of teachers who have health problems to claim "shobyo teate" (Accident and Sickness Compensation; the equivalent of sick pay) on their health insurance.

Up until recently, teachers who were off from work sick faced pressure from Board of Education officials to use their annual leave.

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Berlitz Dispatch Teachers Win Pay Rise!

Berlitz employees, dispatched to a junior and senior high school, joined the General Union last year after working for many years with no increase in their base salaries. They felt that, since regular Berlitz employees get pay increases, they should also be eligible for the same. They demanded that the company not only increase their salaries, but also address the fact that they had gone so long without a base pay increase.

We are happy to announce that we were able to secure a pay increase for all members based on seniority, stipends for extra duties, and a set yearly completion bonus for all.

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Is Takatsuki City Really Going To SUE Osaka Prefecture?

As we have already reported, the Osaka Prefectural Labor Relations Commission issued a ruling on October 14th, 2016, stating that the Takasuki City Board of Education's decision to ban AETs (who are General Union members) from attending graduation ceremonies was an unfair labor practice.

In reaching their verdict, the Labor Relations Commission also ordered the Mayor of Takatsuki City to hand-deliver a letter to the General Union, admitting that Takatsuki City committed an unfair labor practice, and promising that they will never repeat that kind of petty (and illegal) behavior again.

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Maternity Harassment At One Board Of Education

Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of happiness and joy in a woman's life. It is also a time in which pregnant women have to be especially careful about their health, their finances, their work situation, and their relationships, as they make the journey towards motherhood.

This was the case for one woman who assumed that she had everything under control - until her employer, a Board of Education, informed her they would not allow her to take maternity leave. Instead of supporting her, the Board of Education decided that they would fire her.

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Union Launches Group Action Lawsuit Against NOVA

In the past, we've spoken in detail about the numerous ways that some English Conversation schools exploit contracted teachers in order to "have their cake AND eat it".

As we've noted, they accomplish this by asserting that said contracted teachers are not REAL employees, but are ACTUALLY just freelance individuals who are "providing a service" to the company. Suffice to say, we are vehemently against this practice.

However, it's important to note that our stance against issue not just rhetoric. As a matter of fact, we're actually doing something about this situation:

We're taking NOVA to court over it.

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Don't Forget - Autumn General Meeting

 

Next Sunday - Autumn General Meeting

This year we are proposing changes to both our constitution and By-laws. These changes are to reflect the reality that we are not just an Osaka based union but have members in many other regions in Japan.

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Takatsuki Board of Education Reprimanded For Unfair Labor Practices And Anti-Union Behavior

At the height of the dispute between the former Takatsuki AETs and the Takatsuki Board of Education which had dismissed them for complaining about sub-standard housing conditions (prior to claiming that the AETs were never employees of the Board of Education to begin with), there was a particularly spiteful episode in which the Board of Education decided to turn a labor issue into a personal issue, reacting to the AETs labor actions by prohibiting them from attending their final graduation ceremonies.

At this point, all attempts at professionalism had been replaced with petty revenge, punishing both the teachers and their students by denying them from sharing in one of the most important events of a student's life together.

However, karma has a habit of catching up to everyone, regardless of their position in life...

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Of Lionrock And Needlessly Placing Teachers In Danger

On August 17th, 2016, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), began tracking a subtropical depression that soon evolved into a powerful and erratic tropical cyclone.

On August 29th, the cyclone - now named "Lionrock" - abruptly and unexpectedly changed course, placing it on an unprecedented path towards Japan's tsunami and earthquake ravaged Tōhoku region, with Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate prefectures in particular braced to feel the full brunt of Lionrock's power...

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Finally – Justice At Rainbow International

For months now, the General Union has been reporting about the situation at Rainbow International regarding cases of unpaid overtime and paid annual leave.

We last reported that the Labor Standards Office (LSO) was trying to close the case despite Rainbow failing to follow the LSO's order to pay compensation. In fact, for the last three months, the LSO officer in question has been calling our office as much as three times per day to get permission to close the case. Each time we responded with a strong refusal.

The problem was how to get the LSO to actually do their job...

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Kun'ei High School Demands 2017

Union members working at Kun'ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year.

We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed...

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Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

From The Archives: Youthful Adventures With Employment Term Limits In The 1990s

As is often the case with all things in life: sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. In this case, back in the 1990s, we landed somewhere in-between.

The Higashi-Osaka Board of Education had one of the earliest direct-hire programs in all of Japan (outside of JET, that is). It was, at the time, a great program; unfortunately, there was a one major problem: a 3-year term limit placed on employment AFTER teachers were employed.

Thus, in our infancy as a union, we set out to smash the term limit completely...

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Caveat Subscriptor: Seiha English Academy

It's not often that the General Union issues a "Caveat Subscriptor" warning, but given the recent number of enquiries and complaints that we have seen regarding Seiha English Academy, we decided that it would be in the public interest to advise people to perhaps think twice before deciding to work for this company.

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Sunday's Picnic - CANCELLED

With one service putting the chance of rain from 10am at 70% we have decided to cancel. It had better rain or those weather people are getting an ear full.

 

Berlitz instructors; Don't Complain! Join and Vote for new 2017 demands

We are inviting all current and NEW members to participate in our meeting on 2 October from 8pm and to vote on our next round of demands.

Members, new and current, can partiicpate in person at the union office or via skype. Even if you can't come out, you will be sent a link to vote on our new demands.

Here are the new demands that we are considering.

1. A pay rise for all contract instructors (amount to be discussed at the meeting).

2. Job and pay security for per lesson instructors (how will be discussed at the meeting).

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Kitakyushu BoE Bans Men!

In the midst of researching ALT working conditions at the Kitakyushu Board of Education, the Fukuoka General Union stumbled across a number of interesting documents via the Freedom of Information Act. Here's one, in particular, that made us quite unhappy...

In direct opposition to the law, the Board of Education has been caught demanding that a dispatch company replace the male ALT they were planning to send to the school with a female ALT, instead.

Their reasoning? They "had planned the curriculum on the premise of a female teacher coming to the school". This was a co-ed public school in Kitakyushu, and the school was willing to cancel classes until the male teacher was replaced.

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Rainbow International And Ineffective Bureaucracy

Back in August (2016), we reported that - because of union action - there had been an excellent ruling by the Chuo (Osaka) Labor Standards Office against Rainbow International School over its culture of unpaid overtime. Unfortunately, we may have pressed that "upload to website button" a little too quickly...

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Additional information