Private Language Schools

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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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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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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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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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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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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ECC Strike Postponed


ECC STRIKE POSTPONED


ECC branch members are currently considering an offer from the company.


Gaba: Instructors Views On The New Schedule Submission System

The General Union has sent correspondence to Gaba about the new schedule submission system, and will hear back on April 16th.

In the meantime, here are a few of the many responses we received from instructors to our anonymous instructor survey:

"Gaba is still enticing new instructors to join the company with the promise of flexibility in their schedules, which is no longer the case."

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Injuries And Compensation At Gaba

Below, you'll see a Gaba lesson booth as it was on March 11th, 2011. It is now seven years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Several Kanto area learning studios were damaged that day.

Instructors who were at Gaba during and after the disaster will no doubt remember the disorganization at the company, the lack of preparation, and the fact the company decided it was a good idea to open on March 12th.

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Gaba Instructor Schedule Survey

Instructors at Gaba have been expressing discontent with the recent changes to Gaba's scheduling system.

Many Instructors work at Gaba largely because of the flexibility it offers, but that flexibility has been dramatically decreased in recent months.

A large number of instructors have spoken to the union expressing their view that flexibility is decreasing.

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Latest Nova Court Update - February 20

Here is the latest update on our court case against Nova and their illegal "independent contractor" system. Read more about the case lodged in 2016.

Tuesday, February 20, was a full day of testimony with Mike testifying on the union's side and a foreign manager testifying on behalf of Nova.

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Harassed By A Student At Gaba?

As we previously mentioned ("Gaba Corporation Meets General Union's Demands - Client Blocking Procedure Published"), Gaba has recently published its (2013) guidelines on blocking clients who have been involved in harassment.

Although we already provided these instructions in our previous article, they bear repeating because the guidelines are not easy to find without a determined search of the intranet, or without someone physically being able to show them to another instructor in person.

If you work for Gaba and need to locate these guidelines, here's what to do.

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Do The "Six Minute NOVA Hustle"

In case you're wondering, this "hustle" isn't a kind of dance routine cooked up as a crazy PR stunt. No, it's very much the other kind of hustle. The bad kind.

Be that as it may, you probably know all of the moves already.

The NOVA hustle goes like this:

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ECC Members Prepare For Action

It seems that the entire language industry has gone into merger mania! KDDI will buy AEON; G Academy will be merged into NOVA Holdings; GABA will merge with their parent company's COCO Juku; and Berlitz is already a Bennesse company. ECC appears to be the last family-owned national chain.

You may think that this news means that we need to back off from ECC and give them some room so they can change to meet the challenges of the new industry - but it's exactly because ECC needs to change that our fight is more necessary than ever.

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Gaba Corporation Meets General Union's Demands - Client Blocking Procedure Published

sexual harassmentThe General Union has been raising the issue of harassment of instructors by clients with Gaba since 2013, and this has not been an easy process.

Instructors reported a number of cases of sexual harassment by clients, and how they were dealt with poorly by Gaba management.

There was a desire to ignore harassment and to encourage instructors to put up with it.

As recent news stories have shown, this is unfortunately common in many organizations all around the world - particularly when there is money to be made.

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Gaba And Coco Juku To Merge

Earlier this month, the Nikkei newspaper ran an article about an upcoming merger between Gaba and Coco Juku. These are both English conversation schools owned by Nichii Gakkan. Gaba was purchased by Nichii Gakkan in 2011, and Coco Juku was founded in 2012. Although both currently teach English to children and adults alike, Coco Juku has a focus on group lessons.

According to the Nikkei article, from next year, the companies will shift their focus: Gaba will focus on teaching lessons to adults, while Coco Juku will focus on lessons for children.

It remains to be seen what this will mean for instructors at either of the conversation schools.

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Sexual Harassment From Clients At Gaba Corporation

Sexual harassment from Gaba clients is an issue that the General Union has been concerned about for years now. We have raised it with Gaba both in negotiations and correspondence.

The problem has even received notice in the press, with several articles appearing in the Japan Times.

A major problem is that Gaba does not provide clear training for instructors on this issue.

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Improvements For Hourly-Paid Employees At The British Council

General Union members working at the British Council will soon start seeing big improvements to their working conditions after a new collective agreement was recently signed between the union and the organisation.

Hourly-paid employees of the British Council have to deal with numerous labor problems including late contracts, a lack of notice for non-renewal of contracts, and contract periods that are unreasonably short.

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Berlitz Update (2017/09/15): Progress In Talks

Just recently, we let you know that our Berlitz Branch had taken a strike vote.

The intention was never to strike immediately, but to show the company the seriousness of our intent to protect the incomes of Pay Per Lesson teachers, as some instructors have experienced losses of over 100,000 yen per month.

The union has demanded that steps be taken to protect and guarantee the salaries of instructors.

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Emergency Drills At Gaba

Over recent years, the General Union has repeatedly raised the issue of holding emergency drills with Gaba.

In July, 2017, the union asked the company when it would conduct drills at all of the Learning Studios in the company.

However, as of the time of writing, the Akasaka, Akabane, Omotesando, Shinbashi-Shiodome, Seijo, Futakotamagawa and Kashiwa Learning Studios had not yet had drills, whereas some other Learning Studios have had several drills.

The company replied that it intended to hold drills at all studios.

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Berlitz Members Vote Yes In Strike Vote

With an overwhelming majority, a vote to enter dispute mode with Berlitz has carried this last week of August. Strikes, or other dispute acts, will not happen immediately. We will continue to negotiate with Berlitz about salary guarantees and job security for "Per Lesson" instructors in good faith. While progress is still being made action of any kind is on hold.

Taking the decision to strike or enter a dispute is never taken lightly. We ask other union members to support the Berlitz members.

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Berlitz Instructors Ready To Blow! Members Demanding Strike Vote!

Berlitz Japan is the only major language school in Japan which employs (what it calls) "Paid Per Lesson Instructors" (PL).

Unlike normal part-time workers who have set working hours (just reduced from a full-time contract), these "PL" instructors have no set working hours and are informed the night before about the next day’s schedule.

The union has complained to Berlitz that these contracts are not allowed under the Labour Standards Law because there are no set hours.

Our complaints are not based on some kind of technical legal issues; they are concretely based upon the problems that you are about to read about.

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GABA - New System Training

In the lead-up to the new system in July, Gaba staff asked instructors to sign a "letter of understanding" about training for the new computer system. It was not clear whether this was mandatory or not.

As the company had previously tried to force instructors to do unpaid training, the General Union asked the company to clarify this. Gaba stated that signing the letter of understanding was not mandatory, nor was doing the training.

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