Schools

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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Takatsuki City Wastes ¥1,296,000

In May of 2015, the General Union was able to win retroactive enrollment in unemployment insurance (雇用保険; koyou hoken) for the former direct-hire ALTs (AETs) of Takatsuki city. At that time, the city argued that, despite having an employment contract with those ALTs, the ALTs themselves were not employees, and therefore should not have received unemployment insurance.

Wait, what?

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Takatsuki City Caught Lying (Again)

If you follow General Union news fairly regularly, you'll know that one of our larger cases (in recent history) has involved the Takatsuki Board of Education and the previous AETs who suffered as a result of exposing many of the illegalities that the city was involved in. (See: "Takatsuki City Out Of Control")

As we continue to fight that fight, more and more developments keep revealing themselves to us. Case in point: we just caught more of the Board of Education's lies.

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Victory at Doshisha International Academy – More Successes to Follow?

In a major victory at Doshisha International Academy, the General Union has been able to overturn five-year contract limits for our members.

As of last April (2016), all of our members received contracts that had no limit on renewals. This had been a major demand of our union.

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Caveat Subscriptor: World Kinder Interational School, Takasaki

While many may be aware of the Latin term of "caveat emptor" (meaning "buyer beware"), there is another term that you might not be aware of that is very apt in the context of reading contracts: Caveat Subscriptor - Signer Beware.

Although Japanese business owners are known to treat worker rights with some degree of contempt, it is often the case that foreign owners are even worse. Be it due to ignorance of labor laws, a lack of understanding of the culture, or just a general feeling that they are above the law due to not being Japanese, many of the worse problems that foreign employees face come from other foreigners.

This is one of those cases: beware of World Kinder International School, Takasaki.

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Takatsuki Opts For Alienation Instead Of Reconciliation

In the weeks and months since the scandal broke, both unions and citizens of Takatsuki alike have urged the mayor of the city to restart the beleaguered AET program.

The enduring fight waged by Takatsuki AET union members has gone so far as to involve the city of Toowoomba in Australia - the city which recruited and sent the AETs to Takatsuki in the first place.

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The Conundrum of Confiscating Cellphones at Kansai International Academy

Here in the General Union office, we have a short (but often accurate) adage that states: "Beware of any school that has the word "International" anywhere in its name".

Given what we know of Kansai International Academy (inclusive of Kansai International School and Sakura International School), it would appear that our precept is accurate once more. If nothing else, they certainly seem to have a reputation that would qualify them for such a dubious honour.

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Otemon - Language Education Without Language Teachers

Otemon Gakuin High School is presently trying to non-renew all of its native speaker language teachers, using the excuse of a change in the curriculum.

We believe that this is because they wish to avoid giving these teachers permanent contracts under the revised Labour Contract Law from April 2018.

The General Union will vigorously oppose this attack.

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Honest Mistake? Thieves? Only Time Will Tell...

Recently, the GENERAL UNION was contacted for assistance in a matter involving a Kansai-based "International" Kindergarten and a not inconsiderable amount of unpaid salary owed to one of their former teachers.

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Takatsuki City and the Difference Between Truth and Lies

You may already know that the GENERAL UNION is now in the midst of a fight against the Takatsuki city government and Board of Education (BOE) on the issue of the rights of Assistant English Teachers (AET).

One of the issues is whether AETs are legally "employees" or not.

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On employers, lies and laws – more lessons from Takatsuki BoE

In a law-abiding country, everybody (without exception) should follow the law - even if you do not agree with it. However, the behavior of Takatsuki city officials and its BoE that AETs at Takatsuki have seen and experienced are very different from the actions of a law-abiding government.

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Kun'ei teachers win computers and pay rises

First the computers. That's right. Computers. Four shiny new Apple computers for union members, after many years of having to supply their own. Our members couldn't believe their eyes when they were delivered. It's not something you usually see in the union news, but material conditions at work are things that the union can negotiate for and win. Often when members are sitting down to consider demands, especially when pay and other working conditions are not too bad, we often forget the physical environment in which we work. Bigger desks? Better lockers? Computers? Research funds? These are all things that you should consider, even though they are often considered to be 'non-traditional' demands, but they are things which can improve your work performance and your physical comfort at work.

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GENERAL UNION helps Osaka CNET win Workers Accident Insurance

Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, in any place, and they can happen to you. However, if an accident happens to you while you're at work, there is something you can do about it.

A  CNET, directly employed by Osaka City Board of Education, suffered a sudden and unexpected injury while working at school, and had to learn about accidents and the laws about accident compensation the hard way.

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Lessons learned in the fight at Takatsuki Board of Education

On Tax

Although we are now in the midst of the fight against Takatsuki BoE, the union and AETs have learned various concrete lessons in this fight of more than a year. Some of these lessons will be of help foreign and Japanese workers alike. For this purpose, we will share these lessons one by one. This time, about tax.

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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease & The Case For Paid Sick Leave

The General Union has received news that an outbreak of "Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease" (HFMD) - a highly contagious intestinal virus that children in particular are at risk from - has been reported at a notable  so-called "international school".

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Another win in our fight against Takastuki Board of Education

As we prepare to meet Takatsuki BoE representatives across the table at the Osaka Labor Commission in a few days, we have received notice of one victory.

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English education in disarray at Takatsuki City schools

English education in Takatsuki City elementary schools is in disarray after a series of disastrous choices, stemming from a long history of mismanagement, were made by the city Board of Education.

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First wins in Takatsuki City AET fight

For those of you following this case we are happy to report two victories. Though just a first step in our fight with Takatsuki Board of Education, it is a good start.

Since beginning to negotiate with the BoE in late 2014, bureaucrats have taken the line that our members are not employees. This is despite their contracts clearly stating it is an employment contract. The Board of Education also arranged regular employee visas for AETs, and deducted taxes from their salaries like regular employees. Amongst the “misinformation” the BoE have been giving is that AETs are "ambassadors" and not workers.

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Kun'ei Girls High Schoool Negotiations

This evening saw the first round of collective bargaining between our branch at Kun'ei Girls High School and representatives of the school's administration. After a short debriefing session, our members sat down for a chat to discuss the school's responses and their general impressions.

 

 

City Councillors Support Takatsuki AETs

 

In a show of solidarity, members of different unions from  across Kansai came out to support our March 11 demonstration over the unfair firing of members at Takatsuki Board of Education. Over 10 sister unions sent representatives. From the General Union we also had supporters from our Kansai Gaidai, Doshisha Kori, ECC, Industrial & Commercial, and Nichibei branches.

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Takatsuki city out of control. Cancels contract with sister city and in breach of AET's employment contracts

Takatsuki City, under their sister-city contract with the city of Toowoomba, has been inviting AETs from Australia for the past twenty years to teach in their public elementary schools. While these teachers sign employment contracts, have taxes withheld and obtain working visas, the city has refused to follow the Labor Standards Law or to enroll them in compulsory public insurance by claiming that they are not employees. They have committed multiple violations of law: AETs are given no annual leave, and are not enrolled in Workers’ Compensation, Employment Insurance or health insurance. Also, the accommodations allotted to them by the City are of inferior quality, though high rents are charged, and to make matters worse AETs were forced to live there.

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Osaka C-NETs: A two tier system!

 

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Osaka C-NETs seek to improve working conditions

After months of preparation, we are happy to announce the formation of our new union branch at Osaka City Board of Education. Known as Osaka C-NETs, the branch consists of Native English Teachers (NETS) who teach alongside Japanese English teachers.

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Osaka C-NET Demands

Here is a list of the demands that have been submitted to the Osaka City Board of Education. We expect we first negotiations to be in the coming month.

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C-NETs Executive Committee

Will L. (Chair)

I'm William from the East Midlands in England, and I've been working as an Osaka C-NET since August 2013. I was born and raised in the UK trade union system and I've been with the General Union since July 2014.

 

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Kansai International School forced to pay

Kansai International School/Sakura International School is notorious for its paid holiday system. Now someone has finally done something about it.

After consulting the union, one teacher applied to use her remaining paid holidays when resigning from the company. This is your right. Rather than being intimidated by the company’s refusal to pay and stopping there, the teacher took action.

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March scramble for classes

A large number of university and high school teachers are part-time workers. And as you know, the annual ritual of waiting around to hear about new schedules can be a nerve racking time. Will you receive the same number of classes? Will the school try to change your working days? What will you be teaching? Will the schedule from School A be available in time to arrange your schedule at School B?

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No Borders International School

 Having asked their employer to enroll them in health & pension (shakai hoken) and unemployment insurance, teachers became frustrated when No Borders insisted that teachers pay ridiculously high premiums. The premiums were so inflated that we suspect No Borders was attempting to have teachers pay the company's part of the premiums.

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It’s a matter of dignity – Opinion Piece

I work at one of the "better" high schools. It is that is basically a feeder school to a few universities in the Kansai region. As a part-timer, or hijokin in Japanese, I am treated well enough. I'm even enrolled in health and pension insurance.

All that changed this week as I attempted to prepare for the new semester. With a rebuilding program almost completed, we moved into new classrooms and offices.

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