News

ECC strikes postponed. New deadline set for end of June

As the union held three new negotiation sessions during May and some progress was made in terms of proposals from the company (they moved off their ALL NO plan), ECC union officers decided to give the company another month to try to resolve the outstanding points.

We will continue negotiations over pay and yearly working days as well as getting rid of some of the new conditions ecc introduced this year to limit the numbers of those on unlimited term contracts.

Keep your eyes tuned to this site for more details.

General Union Wins Continued Employment For Members After Coco Juku Collapse

coco union winIn February (2019), the language teaching industry was again shocked (but perhaps not surprised) by the announcement that the Nichii Gakkan-owned Coco Juku would cease operations, following in the footsteps of both NOVA and GEOS around a decade ago.

Perhaps more shocking, however, was the treatment of the employees by both the company and the in-house union (the Nichii Gakkan Labor Union) - a union that employees were required to join. 

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New Era Starts In Japan; "Same Old, Same Old" At ECC

ecc same old same old※ Strikes planned for May 25th and June 1st.

On April 14, 2019, union members representing over 150 ECC employees in Kinki, Kanto, and Chubu, voted to take strike action at ECC if negotiations could not resolve union demands by May 25th.

Not only is the employer's failure to offer a minimum across the board pay rise (which they have done every year since 2015, with the exception of 2018 when the union settled for a minimum "across-the-board" pay rise AND paid special leave) a slap in the face to the duty to negotiate in good faith, the employer has begun ridiculous attacks on employees. 

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Berlitz And ECC Branches Negotiations Over Pay And Working Conditions: Round 1

General Union members at both Berlitz and ECC began collective bargaining in January (2019) over pay and working conditions. After a few rounds of bargaining, both ECC and Berlitz members will get a chance to vote on whatever is on offer at their union branch AGMs on April 14th.

Turning down the proposals could possibly lead to a strike at both companies and, at this point, there is no clear proposal from either company over pay. 

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Berlitz And ECC Branches Negotiations Over Pay And Working Conditions: Round 1 (Berlitz)

General Union members at both Berlitz and ECC began collective bargaining in January (2019) over pay and working conditions. After a few rounds of bargaining, both ECC and Berlitz members will get a chance to vote on whatever is on offer at their union branch AGMs on April 14th.

Turning down the proposals could possibly lead to a strike at both companies and, at this point, there is no clear proposal from either company over pay. 

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Takatsuki Mayor’s “Written Oath to Prevent Recurrence” Delivered: Final Chapter in “Takatsuki AET Graduation Ceremony Incident”

As previously reported, on March 5 the Supreme Court rejected Takatsuki City’s appeal. The unusual case, in which Takatsuki City sued Osaka Prefecture, thus reached its ultimate conclusion, and the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission’s order for relief from unfair labor practices became final.

After this outcome, on March 22, 2019, a representative of Takatsuki City visited the General Union office and handed a “Written Oath to Prevent Recurrence of Unfair Labor Practices” from Takatsuki mayor Takeshi Hamada, to General Union chair Dennis Tesolat.

 

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Supreme Court Dismisses Takatsuki City’s Appeal

On March 7, 2019, a sealed letter from the Supreme Court arrived at the General Union’s office. When opened, it was found to contain a three-page document with plenty of white space.

It was a notification that the Supreme Court had on March 5, 2019, rejected Takatsuki City’s appeal of the Osaka Superior Court decision of September 7, 2018, stating that the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission had been correct in judging Takatsuki City’s actions (forbidding General Union members, who worked at Takatsuki elementary schools as assistant English teachers, from attending their students’ graduation ceremonies in March of 2015, and slandering the General Union from the podium at a City Council plenary meeting) to be unfair labor practices.

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General Union Sues Sugiyama Jogakuen Educational Corporation At Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission

Sugiyama Jogakuen Educational Corporation, having repeatedly broken the law, was on its last chance to resolve things voluntarily through negotiation.

After that, the Corporation responded to the General Union’s demand for collective bargaining by saying that "the decision of our Board of Trustees is not going to change, so holding collective bargaining is meaningless", sending the Union a notice refusing to even have negotiations at all.

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GU Demands Equal Pay And Direct Employment For Dispatch Teachers From SEICO

SEICO is a dispatching company that almost exclusively dispatches teachers to Kansai Gaidai, with the CEO having very close links to the university.

Unfortunately, we have been informed by non-union members uneasy about developments that management have orchestrated a campaign to "Keep the General Union out of SEICO".

This campaign has arisen because the General Union has a small but growing number of members who are employed by SEICO and dispatched to the university. 

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ECC And Berlitz Members Win Big In 2018! Let's Do It Again In 2019!

While collective bargaining took much longer than usual at these two workplaces, we were able make significant gains at both workplaces.

At ECC, bargaining focussed on four main demands: an across the board pay increase for all members; pay for special paid congratulatory and condolence leave; the return of the union's right to talk to new teachers at company orientation sessions; and the return of the company's rent subsidy for the ECC branch office.

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Osaka Gaigo: What Are They So Desperate To Hide?

Bunsai Gakuen Educational Corporation and Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko Stubbornly Refuse to Show their Financial Statements

In our February 2018 article, we reported on the puzzling behavior of Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko in pouring money wastefully into a lawsuit while insisting that they “have no money” ("Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)").

The situation has continued to develop.

When the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission issued an order for relief of unfair labor practices, commanding the school to "apologize to the Union and allow them to examine the financial statements", Osaka Gaigo filed suit in Osaka District Court seeking cancellation of the relief order. 

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Union Sues Marist Brothers International School

sue o clock

On October 9th (2018), the General Union filed an application at the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission suing Marist Brothers International School for their violation of the Trade Union Law.

The union had been trying unsuccessfully for a couple of months to get Marist Brothers to the collective bargaining table over their unfair contract non-renewal of a teacher who returned to work after taking maternity leave.

The union charges that Marist Brothers, not wanting to renew a contract which would have lead to a future unlimited term contract, unfairly ended the employment of the teacher - without any warnings - over what they claim to be the teachers "problems" at work.

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The Pursuit Of Union Representation At Deutsche Schule Kobe

deutsche schule kobeThe General Union has been in negotiations with the Deutsche Schule Kobe for over six months.

Teachers at the school joined the General Union after the school reduced their bonus to zero for the previous academic year after they had received only 50% of the usual bonus for the year before that.

The school have given their financial situation as the reason for not paying a bonus. 

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Takatsuki City to Appeal Yet Again After Osaka High Court Rules On "Takatsuki AET Graduation Incident"

this is fineOn March 19th, 2015, two General Union members who were employed by the Takatsuki City Board of Education to assist with English language activities at city elementary schools were refused permission by the Board of Education to attend their students' graduation ceremonies.

Over the three-and-a-half years since then, the fight over this surprising incident has moved from the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission to the Osaka District Court, and then once again to the Osaka High Court.

On September 7th, 2018, the Osaka High Court handed down its ruling (PDF): 

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Is The "New" NOVA Regressing?

nova go downCould it be that - about 25 years after NOVA teachers joined the General Union and fixed NOVA's paid holiday problem - the "new" NOVA is regressing to an evolutionary form that preceeds even the "old" one?

We received a call the other day from a NOVA instructor asking how much notice they have to give in order to use a paid holiday.

While there isn't always a black and white answer, the basic principle when it comes to these kinds of things is that paid holidays belong to the employee as an indisputable legal right. 

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Working At NOVA? We'll Tell You What NOVA Won't About Unlimited Term Contracts

top secret novaAs you might know, as of April 1st, 2018, those employed at the same employer for over five years (as of any contract signed on or after April 1st, 2013), can apply to have their limited-term contract converted into an unlimited-term contract.

This means that once you apply, the employer must accept it - and when you sign the NEXT contract, there is no longer an end date (e.g. you change from a one-year contract to an unlimited-year contract).

You can read more about the limited- to unlimited-term contract conversion process in our extensive Q&A on the topic: The Labor Contract Law Amendment Q&A 

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Shoin Gakuen: How Will They "Explain" Their Illegal Dismissals In Court?

blind justice osaka shoinA General Union member who held a job as a non-regular teacher of English at Shoin High School (operated by Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation) was dismissed from the job, with no reason given, on March 31st (2018) - just a day before gaining the right to switch to an unlimited-term contract.

On June 25th (2018), our union member filed suit against Shoin Gakuen Educational Corporation, claiming the dismissal was invalid, and held a press conference together with the General Union. 

The scene was broadcast by several major media outlets in the Kansai region (MBSAsahiKTVYTV).

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It's Not Too Late To Make Sure You Don't Lose Your Pension

Back in February of 2017, a retiring, long-term union member at Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko realised that - even though he qualified for a pension - he would lose nine years of potential pension contributions.

The union won health and pension insurance rights back in 2000, but his first nine years were lost...

Or so he thought. 

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Shoin Gakuen Makes The News

osaka newsEven though the General Union's name wasn't mentioned, our members' illegal dismissal due to the implementation of the Labor Contract Law amendements (aka the "five year rule") has made the news.

This coming Monday, June 25th, we will be holding a press conference as we lodge the court case against Educational Corporation Shoin Gakuen, and we expect television cameras to be there.

Read the Japanese article below (click for full size): 

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Don't Beg For A Good Evaluation - Join The Union And Negotiate Your Pay!

For years, the General Union has argued that pay increases based on evaluations is a rigged system. After all, how could the system not be rigged against the employee when the people doing the evaluating (i.e. the company) are the very same people who also have to pay the increase you get?

Berlitz's latest memo is a prime example of this in action: Berlitz has an evaluation system in place - but this year, because of their financial situation, they want to change it to a much worse system.

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Okinawa Christian University To Withdraw Dismissals Of Non-Regular Teaching Staff

Through collective-bargaining with the Okinawa Christian University (and Okinawa Christian Junior College), the "Union For Part-Time Teachers in Universities" in Okinawa recently won the removal of an article in the working regulations for non-regular teachers.

That article set a five-year employment limit in the contract terms for part-time teachers.

According to the Okinawa Times, the switch to permanent contracts will now be possible (in compliance with the law). 

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Is Schedule Flexibility At Risk At Gaba?

Instructors at Gaba have always been able to submit their schedules for times they would like to work and have them approved and made available for clients to book without impediments. This flexibility is one of the main reasons why many people choose to work at Gaba.

This seems to have changed since the implementation of the new booking system at the beginning of 2018.

Schedules have been rejected and instructors are now being asked or directed to submit schedules for times they do not wish to work. 

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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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Problems Solved At Kansai Gaidai

The General Union branch at Kansai Gaidai university has been busy dealing with a number of issues arising from the closure of the university’s Hotani campus and the opening of a new campus at Gotenyama.

Visiting professors at the university have always received on-campus apartments, which is specified in their contracts.

Teachers moving from the Hotani campus to the Nakamiya and Gotenyama campuses were told that there was not sufficient accommodation to house them in the apartments at the nearby Nakamiya campus.

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Nichibei Eigo Gakuin Teachers & Okayama Bus Drivers Have A Lot In Common

So what do Nichibei Eigo Gakuin teachers and Okayama bus drivers have in common? Thinking outside the box!

When we hear of industrial action we usually think of strikes. In reality though, it can take many different forms, and be just as effective.

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AEON's Trickery And The "20,000 Yen Fixed Overtime Allowance"

AEON teachers work some of the longest hours in all of the main eikaiwa schools in Japan.

In general, many of the teachers who we speak to don't mind these hours as they are paid a little more than at other schools and often get to do a variety of different jobs throughout the day.

At least, this was the case until the recent announcement by AEON that teachers will have their base salaries cut by 15,000 yen per month.

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General Union And NUGW Tokyo Nambu Enter Joint Negotiations At British Council

Here's a follow up on our recent successes at ECC where the General Union joined forces with members at our sister union NUGW Tokyo Roso.

Union members at British Council are locking arms across unions to win improvements in their working conditions.

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Osaka Shoin: Harassment By Camera?

Along with all the other issues that the General Union is currently dealing with, here's a quick recap to remind people of the story with Osaka Shoin Women's University up until now.

The government introduced a new law: if you've worked for five years, the school has to give you a contract with no end date. In response, Osaka Shoin freaks out and introduces a five-year employment limit just to avoid the law

This is illegal.

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Doshisha Checkoff Begins

The new school year has begun, and so has our new checkoff agreement at Doshisha Kori. From here on in Japanese and foreign members alike at Doshisha will be able to have their dues directly deducted from their salary. In the coming months we will be rolling the system out at other Doshisha schools.

Why is dues checkoff important?

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