Schools

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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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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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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Mission Impossible - The New School Year [OP-ED]

If you choose to accept this mission you will teach six 1st grade JHS classes.

The mission is to find the five other people all teaching this course.

To make it that more difficult, we will not give you any of the names of the people you are working with. 

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"GU Helped Me Win Tenure"

We received a message this week. It's nice to hear kind words but better yet, it was good to hear that our education campaign about the "5 year rule" helped someone to better their work conditions.

***

Dear GU - Although I'm not a member (I live in Tokyo) I have been following your posts for a while. This is my sixth year of a one-year contract BUT I'm fortunate as my school has applied for a non-regular teaching license (教育職員特別免許) for me (awarded on Sep 1!) and plan to give me a tenured position from next year. I partially attribute this to your posts, which let me know what questions to ask as well as background knowledge on labor laws. Thanks a million. In the near future, I would like to make a small donation to show my support for what you do. Once things settle down, you could let me know how to do that. Keep up the heroic deeds!

 

Board of Education Illegally Denies Childcare Leave

Recently, the General Union received an e-mail from a worried JET at a Kanto area Board of Education. Married, the teacher is expecting her first child later in the year.

When she approached the Board of Education to ask about maternity and childcare leave, she was happy to learn that she could take maternity leave and that the Board of Education would help with documentation so that she could receive maternity leave allowance through shakai hoken (Employee Health and Pension Insurance; EHPI).

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Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before - Takatsuki BoE Update

So, a judge, the General Union, and the Takatsuki Board of Education walk into a court room (stop me if you think you've heard this one before). The judge turns to the Board of Education and says...

Well, actually, perhaps we need a bit of background information first.

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Are Public Schools Actually "Black Companies" In Disguise?

For all of the nobility of working as a teacher in public (or otherwise) schools, the reality of the situation is often entirely at odds with the otherwise romantic image that society paints of such an essential academic workforce. On April 28th, 2017, this couldn't have been made any clearer.

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Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)

Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)In the week beginning 6th of February 2017, part-time teachers (including General Union members) at Doshisha Iwakura Junior High School were summoned to individual meetings and informed that their contracts would not be renewed after next April (2018).

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Hokkaido International School Unionizes

Last year we were approached by teachers at Hokkaido International School looking to unionize. Given that the company is located in Sapporo, and we could not legally enforce collective bargaining in Osaka, we decided it was best to find a local union.

Sapporo General Union (unrelated to General Union) does not actively seek foreign members but when we approached them they decided to take up HIS. It helped that there were potential members fluent in Japanese.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Senri International Campus Set To Close Saturday School?

At the end of March, 2016, teachers who work on the special programs at Kwansei Gakuin’s Senri International Campus ("Saturday School" and the summer vacation "Just for Kids" program) were told that these programs would be closed from the end of March, 2018.

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More Unpaid Overtime At Rainbow International; More Action From The General Union

Dilbert © 2016 - Scott AdamsThe General Union has, in the past, locked horns with Rainbow International School over their culture of unpaid overtime. Indeed, as we wrote in our 2015-2016 union activity report:

"We have dealt with unpaid overtime here in the past and won payment. We are taking up the issue again this year but the person has left Japan and the company may not be so ready to settle. If not, it will be a good opportunity to use the Labor Standards Office and have an official order made.

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Takatsuki City fails to settle dispute , Case will go to final judgement

With the outcome looking bad for Takatsuki City, the Osaka Labor Relations Commission had proposed to Takatsuki City that they settle our Unfair Labor Practices case by agreeing with the union’s proposal to start talks with Toowoomba City to restart the AET program in line with Japanese employment laws.

Yesterday though, on June 17th, 2016, Takatsuki City told the Commission that they were refusing this proposal and that they are ready to wait for the ruling of Osaka Labor Relations Commission. Ridiculous enough, they also told Osaka Labor Relations Commission, “The friendship activities between two cities are going well EXCEPT the AET Ambassador Exchange Program.”

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Osaka City University's Threat To Outsource Its Own Teachers Invokes Union Intervention

Negotiate To WinIn March of this year (2016), sixteen part-time teachers at the Osaka City University (OCU) - located in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, received new contracts to sign which had, unbeknownst to them, been changed from previous contracts to include a clause stating that THIS contract would be their final employment contract with the university.

Many teachers signed the contract - which was only given to them in Japanese - without realizing that the contract (which was, for all intents and purposes, otherwise identical to previous contracts) had been altered to include the new "final contract" clause.

In addition, the university abstained from verbally informing the teachers of the additional clause, perhaps hoping that they would not notice its inclusion...

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