News

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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New member Orientations

New member Orientations to the union are offered three times per year. You can in person in our Osaka Office, or by Skype. This program will generally be on a Sunday evening - but, with Skype, we can be flexible.

After you have been formally ratified as a union member you will receive information on upcoming orientation dates.

Just joined the union and have questions? We'll cover these topics, and more:

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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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October 16 is almost here - Interac ALTs should lodge their concerns

As the General Union has reported, Interac Co. Ltd has announced an "absorption-type split agreement" that - as of January 1st, 2016 - will see it split into six subsidiary companies (view the full article here).

It is becoming clear to the General Union that this announcement, seemingly timed as a reaction to the recent revisions to the dispatch, and other labor laws that would directly affect the company, is designed not as a means by which to "position ourselves to manage the growth in the market", but as a way to evade legal obligations that they would otherwise soon be subject to.

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Why Is October 16th So Important To Interac?

In the midst of the General Union writing an article about Interac's recently announced "absorption-type split agreement" six regional companies, Interac has suddenly and unexpectedly sent time-sensitive letters to employees asking them to accept the changes that will come into effect on January 1st, 2016, or to lodge an objection by October 16th.

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Gaba Corporation to run emergency drills

After the union repeatedly raising the issue of disaster preparation Gaba Corporation is holding drills at 14 Learning Studios across Japan in the next few months. The drills are paid at the rate of two non-peak lessons.

This number of drills is a big improvement from 2014, when the company did none, and from 2013, when it did seven.

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Executive Committee 2015

Andrew H. (Branch Chair)

I am from California, USA, and have been working as an instructor at Nova since November of 2010. I currently work at various schools between Kobe and Osaka.

I joined the union and declared my membership in the summer of 2014, out of a sense of malaise that the company neither had any sense of direction nor placed any value in the happiness of its employees. I look forward to meeting everyone of you, and showing you how we can achieve great things by working together.

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Fired? Here's What Some Union Members Did About It

In 2013, two employees of Nippon Steel, who had worked for the company for almost two decades, unexpectedly discovered that their contract with the company would not be renewed as part of "internal restructuring" - "restructuring" that, in reality, was just business jargon for "fire veteran employees and save money by hiring people to do the same job for less salary".

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Gaba Hides Client Sexual Harassment, Punishes Instructors

There is a Gaba client who was blocked from taking lessons from several female instructors for harassing them. Despite this, the company has refused to discontinue the client’s contract, has removed the 'special circumstances' note highlighting his behaviour from his file, and has repeatedly deleted comments inputed by an instructor who had been harassed by the client. They have gone so far as to give her a written warning for her actions.

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The Reality of Convenience Stores

Recently, Seven-Eleven Japan notified the Chair of the Japan Association of Convenience Store Franchisee's Union (the "Konbini Kamei-ten Yunion", or "CU"), a union comprised of convenience store operators and employees, that it would refuse to renew his contract with the company, effectively firing him. This action has shocked the members of the CU, who have decried it as "blatant union-busting".

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Nova Manager Apologizes After Official Union Complaint

Recently, drama erupted at NOVA after a student accused a teacher - a member of the General Union - of being involved in a torrid affair with another NOVA staff member. The accusation was baseless, as no relationship of a romantic nature existed between the teacher and the member of staff. However, the way that NOVA handled the situation left much to be desired.

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Absences or lateness due to typhoon weather

The union has been asked about this issue. Over this week there was very heavy rain across Japan making travel in some areas dangerous due to the passing typhoons. The union believes that instructors shouldn't be penalised because of any lateness or absences due to this extreme weather.

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Emergency Drills To Be Held At GABA "More Often"

At GABA, the last evacuations practised at learning studios were conducted two years ago, at only a small number of locations, with few instructors taking part.

While there are posters in Learning Studios advising what to do in the event of a disaster, there has been little real education or preparation to give instructors experience in knowing what to do or how to handle the situation when - not if - an earthquake occurs.

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Privacy Protection - Companies: Think Before You Click

At the end of August, 2015, a "Head Teacher" of one of the largest dispatch companies in Japan sent out a newsletter in which he pasted the e-mail address of every recipient into the "TO:" field instead of the "CC:" field, thus revealing the private e-mail addresses of everyone that the e-mail was intended for to everyone who received it.

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We Just Won A Refrigerator! (Seriously!)

As you may know, the General Union is comprised of many different branches. One of these branches is our Shinobu Branch, representing workers who are employed by Shinobu Foods Products Co., Ltd. which - as their name suggests - manufactures and sells food products in Japan.

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Computers In The Workplace - Poll Results

On July 30th, the GENERAL UNION reported that it had won a salary increase and new computers for its members at Osaka Kun-ei Women's College. ("Kun'ei Teachers Win Computers and Pay Rise": http://tinyurl.com/pngfjuh)

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ECC Mediation Update 2015/08/25

 

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Issues@LCs

Something not right at your LC? Do you think there is something happening that needs to be reported? Is it important enough to let everyone know about it? Here is the place. Just send an email to mcvay(@)generalunion.org (remove brackets). We will contact you and go from there.  

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes... Teacher Turnover at Berlitz

What is a company's most important asset? Is it the cash in its bank account? Nope, not even close! How about the building or location that a company is located in? Sorry, no dice! What about the company's president? Even they are nowhere near as important to a company’' success when compared to its employees.

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Declaration of the 2015 Osaka Zenrokyo Annual General Meeting

As well as fighting to win every one of our disputes, let’s stand in opposition to the gutting of the Dispatch Act, to the Zero Overtime Bill, to the legislation of “collective self-defense”. Let’s stop the out-of-control rampage of the Abe government and the moneyed interests. Let’s fight to build a society where workers can have peace of mind.

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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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Kansai Gaidai Branch Spreads the News

The GENERAL UNION has had many battles, won many victories, solved many problems, and protected the rights of thousands of members and non-members alike throughout its long history.

A recent organizing leafleting at KANSAI GAIDAI University in Hirakata, Osaka, is further evidence of our resolve to continue to carry the fight onwards.

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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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Survey Results - Gaba Corporation emergency preparation

Recently the GU branch did a survey about emergency preparations at Gaba to see how instructors felt about the situation. The results were alarming.

0% of instructors received emergency training during initial certification (training) at Gaba.

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Gaba Home Study – Client’s Perspective is NOT mandatory

There has been some discussion about whether the current Mindflash training offered by Gaba is mandatory. While the GU believes that it is good for instructors to do training to help them teach as well as possible, the training is NOT mandatory.

Some instructors have been under the impression that it is, or that their schedule may be blocked if they do not do the training. This is not the case, and if instructors have any problems they are most welcome to contact the union about this.

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The ultimate ECC mediation FAQ: What is mediation, anyways??

1. What happens at mediation?

The union, the company, and members of the Labor Commission will meet, both together and separately to discuss our demand for a 5% pay raise. There are three mediators, a labour-side, company-side, and public commissioner. Often they will move back and forth between the company and the union with different proposals. Sometimes they may even offer their own proposal to both parties.

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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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Has Your Company Banned Your Laptop?

In Miyagi Prefecture, one major dispatch company has been informing its High School instructors that the Miyagi Prefectural Board of Education has told them that ALTs are NOT permitted to take their personal laptop (or tablets, etc) to their assigned schools.

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Additional information