New Nova Contract Is Fishy

Recent negotiations with NOVA's management (from their Osaka and Nagoya offices) has confirmed what the union has suspected since the new "itaku" contracts (independent contractors) were first introduced: the contracts are very fishy.

When pressed to describe how the contracts and jobs of "employees" and "independent contractors" differ, the company could only point to the salary and benefits being different, along with the claim that independent contractors retain the right to sub-contract their lessons out to a third party.

The right to sub-contract to a third party is an essential feature of a real "itaku" contract - but in reality you cannot sub-contract the lessons out to just anyone.
 
Imagine if you decided to sub-contract your lessons at the Multimedia Center to a friend who had newly arrived in Japan. You would need to train that person on how to use NOVA's equipment, teaching methods, company etiquette, etc.

Can you imagine NOVA allowing you to bring in a third party into the office, ignore security, and just let you just plop that person down in front of a screen and let them get to work? Neither can we - it would never happen!

"Itaku" contracts are meant for things like hiring someone to build a set of steps for you, but you would not, for example, tell the person what kind of hammer to use. The person in question might decide to build the stairs on-site, or they might choose to build them in their workshop and bring the stairs pre-assembled to your house to install. They may even hire someone else to do the installation on their behalf.

You would be contracting them to do your work for you, but you wouldn't instruct them on how to do that work. "Itaku" - or independent contracts - are not meant for teaching.

Consider these points:

  • The company tells you which booth to sit at to conduct the lesson. If you were an independent contractor, you would decide where to teach the lesson, be it in a booth at NOVA, or in a park because it's a nice sunny day.
  • The company tells you what textbook to use with a student. If you were an independent contractor, you would decide what materials to use. You might even decide to never use a textbook at all.
  • The company tells you what to wear. If you were an independent contractor, you would decide what to wear yourself.  In summer, you might choose to wear sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt, for example (and certainly not a suit and tie).

These are just three of the obvious indicators that prove that people on the new "independent contracts" are not independent at all. They are employees, and clearly under the dictates of NOVA's management.

NOVA has introduced these contracts to give the appearance that instructors can earn more money. The reality, however, is very different. Although they offer slightly more income, they take away so much in return – paid annual leave, worker's accident compensation, unemployment insurance, health and pension insurance, and much more.

At the moment, NOVA says teachers have the option to take either an employee or independent contractor contract. If anyone feels they are being forced to become an independent contractor, they should contact the union immediately.

Say NO to being an "Independent Contractor", and say NO to be exploited.


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