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.


Fed up with this violation of their human rights and total disregard for labor laws, the majority of the AETs moved out of this accommodation, and at the same time joined the General Union, announcing the formation of the Takatsuki City BoE Branch. Takatsuki City, then claimed that “AETs are participants in international exchange, not employees”. For the past twenty years, the City has been signing “Employment Contracts” with AETs and the AET's supervisor, but after these workers joined unions their lame excuse was that “we didn’t know the labor laws, so we signed employment contracts by mistake”.


Plan to abolish the AET system in order to cover up own violations of law

They refuse to acknowledge that “employment” equals legally being a “worker”. On December 12, 2014, they did accept collective bargaining under the Labor Union Law. However, Takatsuki City soon began taking unthinkable acts of retaliation. They reported to Toowoomba City that the AETs were troublemakers, and soon AETs received a threatening e-mail from the mayor of Toowoomba saying that “a few AETs have engaged in destructive acts and joined a union”. Furthermore, using that as a justification, the two cities secretly agreed to abolish the system of inviting AETs.

If they abolish this AET programme in order to conceal their own illegalities and vested interests, we will have no choice but to file Unfair Labor Practice complaints against both cities in both countries.

At the collective bargaining session, the City Board of Education tried to avoid responsibility by saying that “abolishing the AET system was something we were told about by the mayor’s office”. Neither the start of this system nor its ending were ever subject to any decision by the City Council: they were arbitrary decisions made by people around the mayor, who used the system for their own personal benefit. Now, the General Union has started investigating and exposing their multiple violations, not only of the Labor Union Law, but of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Law, the Employment Insurance Law, the Health Insurance Law, the Pension Law, and tax laws, among others.

The City Board of Education is evidently also planning, after firing all current AETs, to stop hiring directly and instead subcontract to a dispatching company. We must not allow them to circumvent the law by forcing a change to dispatch, taking advantage of the crisis like a looter at the scene of a fire.

If Takatsuki City will not withdraw the firings and other illegalities, the General Union will expand our efforts--including exposing their violations of law to relevant government offices, filing a citizen's petition for the situation to be examined, suing in court or at the Labor Commission, holding press conferences to publicize the story both at home and abroad, and starting investigations in Australia. We will keep up the fight until the mayor and the board of education take responsibility for this mess by settling these current shenanigans.

 

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