NOVA workers now have a new choice

From the National Union Voice On 30 September over 100 NOVA teachers and staff packed themselves into the small General Union offices in Temmabashi with similar numbers attending meetings over two days in Tokyo.

The big question that everyone asked was if NOVA was going to go under. Seeing that no one except the presi-dent of NOVA knows the answer to this question, union organizers stuck to answering the questions they could. The meeting covered topics regarding unpaid wages and what will happen to wages if the company goes into bank-ruptcy, which teachers qualified for unemployment insurance and how they could claim their benefits, JMA and shakai hoken, housing, and a host of other concerns that normal people have when they fear losing their live-lihoods, especially those in a foreign country. But more importantly the meeting covered in contents and feeling why the unionization of the language teaching industry is necessary. In short, the general consensus was that without a union, teachers and staff have no way to balance the unbridled power of the eikaiwa industry, an in-dustry that does have a reputation for unsavoury practices. The General Union, as stated by one organizer, “Has accomplished far more at NOVA than what our numbers should have allowed us to, but this is not enough and sadly this condition will continue until the vast majority of eikaiwa workers see the need for un-ionization.” This is the one positive thing that may come out of this crisis. For the first time since the drug testing scandal at NOVA in 1994, hundreds of NOVA teachers are coming together, and are armed with information about the un-ion and their rights. The climate of fear that has been NOVA for many years may have been broken and if the company survives and teachers and staff see to it that they do not lose their belief in the fairness that a union can bring, we may see real change ; not only at NOVA, but throughout the industry. These teachers and staff that have now attended their first ever un-ion meeting in Japan now have a real choice; build a union strong enough to challenge the big language schools or suffer with no information or support the next time bankruptcy rears its ugly head either at NOVA or some other chain school. Cynics, and there are many, will cry that the union is trying to take advan-tage of a large group of people simply to increase its numbers and is in fact happy about NOVA’s possible demise. Let the cynics talk, but let’s not be-lieve them. The only party in the ei-kaiwa industry that has ever had the best interests of staff, teachers, and students at heart is the union, now teachers and staff has the information in front of their eyes, we hope that they will yearn for the fairness brought by mass unionization and join the un-ion either at NOVA or their next work-place. All of us in the language industry have the ability to revolutionize this indus-try, to take the whole industry and force it to change, so that the problems from this current crisis never have to be relived at either NOVA or another company.

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