Is something changing at NOVA?

Collective bargaining at NOVA has always had a predictable trend: the union submits demands, the company agrees to meet, we meet, and NOVA says NO in a loud and clear voice.

Even in the most obvious of cases where NOVA knows that if the case goes to court or to an outside authority they will lose, they still haven't settled the case with the union, especially in the past four years or so. In November, when the union submitted demands over the non-renewal of a union member, there was no reason to believe that there would be any change in this pattern and we informed the member that if he really wanted to really fight this, he should also decide very clearly if he was willing to take the matter to court. He said that he was. Armed with the member's resolve to fight this contract non-renewal to the end, and with a very good reason why his contract should be renewed (NOVA had informed him that his contract would be renewed and asked him to visit head office to sign it), union negotiators met with NOVA four days before the member's visa was due to expire. Surprisingly, after being told that the member had already received a contract renewal notice, NOVA said that they were willing to negotiate a settlement to this issue. Worried about his visa and not wanting to work at NOVA longer than another year anyway, the member suggested to the union negotiators that he would ask for one more contract and agree that it would be non-renewable. The negotiators put this proposal to NOVA, and NOVA again surprised us by calling the next day and accepting. Is this a fluke? We were shocked again when, as reported in the 11 December issue of the Japan Times, NOVA reached a settlement with an ex-NOVA employee over an unfair demotion over socialization after the employee had taken his case to court. As reported in the same article, the Osaka Bar Association Human Rights Committee recommended last year that NOVA eliminate the non-socialization rule after the General Union took this issue to the Bar Association. What's happening? It would be premature to say that NOVA has seen the light and decided that being a constant bully doesn't work. However, after this year's action by the union around shakai hoken and past disputes over socialization, combined with losses in court cases brought by both NOVA teachers and students, and compounded by a 2.9 billion yen loss in the first half of the 2005 fiscal year (nikkei.company.co.jp), NOVA appears to be waking up to the fact that sometimes it is easier to settle.

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