2019 Central Government Negotiations

On November 11, 2019, thanks to the cooperation of Diet Member Abe Tomoko, negotiations were held between the National Union of General Workers "education group" (NUGW Tokyo Nambu, General Union, and Fukuoka General Union), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHWL), Ministry of the Interior, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The negotiations took place over three hours, at the House of Representatives members building.

The talks began with hearing answers from members of each relevant ministry or agency to questions the union side had previously submitted, based on the education group's demands and our 2019 ALT Survey report.

Regarding lessons taught by ALTs on subcontracting (itaku) contracts, it became clear that, although MEXT carries out surveys every year through prefectural boards of education and knows the numbers working on these types of contracts, they have an insufficient grasp of the concrete realities.

The union side - because he have many union members working on subcontracting contracts, as well as on the specific results of our own survey - pointed out the illegality and its undeniable bad influence on ALT employment.

We demanded the Ministry take further steps to rectify the illegal situation.

The Ministry also promised to send documents outlining its detailed position on the "10-year rule" for unlimited term contracts in universities.

Furthermore, they confirmed that in case of suspected violations of education-related laws at institutions under ministry jurisdiction, they would accept requests for investigation and rectification.

Those participating from the MHWL asked that, in cases of labour-law violations, we report to (and request rectification from) the Labour Bureau in each prefecture.

Reports were also made about employers introducing a retirement age with the change to unlimited-term contracts, and about the introduction of “5-year renewal limits”.

Discussion was held on where to draw the line between right and wrong on this.

In regard to enrollment in Social Insurance (Shakai Hoken), the MHWL indicated clearly that their plan is to expand enrolment, and reports were given on the state of deliberations within the government.

The current focus of discussion is on company size, and with the goal being to submit a bill to the next year's regular diet session.

In regards to the union's demands for part-timers to be able to add up their total hours from multiple employers (which our unions have been demanding for a number of years), the response was that there are currently similar opinions being raised by members of the Social Security Council Pension Subcommittee, but there is yet no decision.

Concerning the "fiscal-yearly appointee" system (KAIKEI NENDO NINYO SHOKUIN), we pointed out that this system is actually making employment even less secure for non-regular (part-time) workers, and that the payment of "bonuses" which do not change overall annual income was not leading to any improvement in conditions.

The Interior Ministry stated that they have given instructions not to place any limits on re-appointment (employment).

In reference to funding for new bonuses, they reported that local governments' increased expenditures for providing bonuses will be dealt with through local distribution of tax revenue, but the details are still being coordinated.

About hiring ALTs as regular, full-time civil servants as per MEXT's own directive, MEXT reported that they have repeatedly taken steps on this issue.

However, we pointed out that in reality most boards of education have no idea that this directive was even issued.

In regard to the new law to promote Japanese-language education, the Agency for Cultural Affairs reported that the goal for the moment was for the Cabinet to decide on a basic government policy to present to next year’s regular Diet session.

The union side pointed out that language education is not the only important thing, and that it is also crucial for the various rules in workplaces (work rules, health and safety rules, etc.) to be displayed so that foreign workers could understand them.

On this point, the Agency was in agreement.

The Education Ministry (MEXT) confirmed once more that their answers to the questions found in the unions' 2019 ALT report would be sent at a later date, and that so would documents concerning their detailed official position on the "10-year rule".

Negotiations ended by saying all participants would continue communicating.

This continued communication will be a continuation of this day’s meeting and negotiations in another form.

It is sure to bring information that will be useful to our activity in the future.

 


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