The Cost Of Doing Business With Dispatch Companies - Fukuoka Edition

One of the most pervasive myths that the General Union often finds itself attempting to dispel is the idea that it's cheaper for a Board of Education to outsource its desire for ALTs to a dispatch companies than it is to directly hire people itself.

Yet, time and time again, we've seen that dispatch companies are in fact much more expensive than people would have you believe, often in the region of ¥350,000 to ¥400,000 (if not more) per month, per subcontracted ALT. 

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Fukuoka BoE Fires 120 ALTs; Goes To Dispatch

Some of you will have heard that the Fukuoka Board of Education has fired 120 ALTs (or "Guest Teachers"). The 120 includes both Japanese nationals fluent in English, along with qualified and unqualified teachers.

While some of these teachers are students, for many it is their main source of income. Some "Guest Teachers" have been working with the Board of Education for over 10 years.

Below is a translation of an article from the Nishinippon Shimbun.

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Your Company Is Not Your Friend [OP-ED]

I'm loathe to admit that, when I came to Japan nearly a decade ago, I - like so many others (everyone, perhaps?) - was one of those people who had bought into the idea that companies in Japan cared about their employees.

I remember reading a gushing article about how Japanese managers treat their employees like "flowers" that needed to be "watered and cared for" in order to "make the company grow" - a unique blending of social harmony and corporate culture with an understanding that people, not profits, were the drives and gears that kept everything running smoothly.

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Working Without A Visa? "Run. Don't Walk. Run Away."

Spotted over on the r/teachinginjapan sub-reddit, here's another anecdote of a company attempting to coax a naive foreigner with the usual assurances that they'll handle all of that pesky immigration nonsense AFTER said foreigner comes to Japan and starts working for them (illegally).

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Introducing: The Interac Mobile Phone Rental Service

You might already have the Interac Employment Contract, Interac Sub-Contracted Leopalace, and the Interac Rental Car; but are you (and your wallet) ready for the Interac Rental Mobile Phone that will "make your life easier in Japan by providing a top-tier phone easily, quickly, and with minimal hassle"?

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Hey, Joytalk: "Homework" Is Still "Work"

Joytalk, an eikaiwa-come-dispatch-company that has its tendrils in northern Japan, doesn't seem to understand what the word "homework" means. On June 14th (2017), a "Joytalk ALT Manager" sent out an "a very important email" that contained "information pertinent to the homework assignment" that they were asking their employees "to have completed for training". Notably lacking from that e-mail, however, were any details about how much overtime pay ALTs would receive for doing this additional work.

Wait, what's that? "Homework" is actually work? It sure is! The clue is in the name!

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Joytalk: A Cautionary Tale

"Joytalk" has become known to the General Union as a name that usually precedes a story of woe soon to follow. Indeed, whenever we see the word "joy" and "talk" together in the same sentence, it's usually a sign that someone is having a bad time.

We've mentioned them before in regards to contracts that forbid resignation, privacy concerns, forcing teachers to brave typhoons, and serious allegations of breaking immigration law.

Today, we have yet another cautionary tale which involves more accusations of immigration law shenanigans.

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From Reddit: "Don't Work Without A Visa (And Think Twice About Working For Joytalk)"

With April quickly approaching, it will soon be "that time of year" again - a time in which many foreigners dance to the tune of impending transfers, turnovers, and replacements while Boards of Education across Japan throw money around in the hope that dispatch companies will be the solution to the very problems that dispatch companies create (and so the prophecy fulfils itself).

Those who are caught up in this annual waltz often find themselves with a number of decisions to make and, often, the idiom of "any port in a storm" seems an apt descriptor: when one is having serious trouble, one must accept any solution, whether one likes the solution or not; when one wants to live in Japan by any means necessary, one must accept any job, regardless of the reputation of the company that they want to work for.

In such a situation, the question of "at what cost?" might not be all that important - but do the ends always justify the means?

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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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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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