Strike NOVA!

Emergency Meeting for NOVA members and other instructors/staff

Friday, 24 April at 10:00 and 22:00 (RSVP HERE)

Collective bargaining on Wednesday yielded very little. Usually collective bargaining does not deliver much the first time, but since we are racing the clock, we do not have time to spend weeks talking and must prepare for some activity on our part that will move the company to reason. So, we believe it is time to take a strike vote. This is rather fast, but the situation is urgent. At the meetings on Friday, we will discuss the situation and what a strike means in Japan and then ballot members to decide.

Some information about strikes:

  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do with the independent contractors who take time off.
  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do if you apply later than a month for paid leave.
  • Strikes are probably the most protected of trade union activities in Japan and you cannot legally be punished for taking part.


Coronavirus Update for 10 April

Since the Declaration of Emergency Measures things have really started get busy for the union. If you write to us with a consultation, please use and do not send an email. For members and non-members alike please understand that we may not be able to get back to you as quickly as before.


We would like to know how you are holding up during all of this. Please take a few minutes to answer our eight-question survey.

Income and Other Support Measures

While the scale of the recently announced package is 108 trillion yen, the biggest ever, in fact, the actual expenditure from the national budget is only 18.6 trillion yen.


Harassment by Gaba clients, and what you can do

For some years the General Union Gaba branch has been following up the issue of clients harassing instructors. After the union raising the issue repeatedly the company published guidelines about blocking clients, which can be found tucked away under “Instructor Policy” “Professionalism” “Inappropriate Behavior Instructor policy”.

Unless instructors take a very deep dive into the back pages of the Gaba site they are unlikely to find this.

Things have improved somewhat, but talking to new instructors coming into the system makes it clear that this issue is still not being adequately covered. Harassment shouldn’t occur, but if it does, instructors should know what the procedure is and how to go about having the client blocked. For instructors who are just out of university and may be working for the first time the situation is particularly stressful.

Many new instructors still don’t know about this option, or have some vague idea that they should speak to their ISL or LS staff. The union recently communicated this to Gaba, asking if the issue is being covered in initial training.

The company replied that new instructors are informed of the “Inappropriate Behavior” policy and that it has taken sufficient measures on this topic.

Given that new instructors still don’t know about these policies, this doesn’t appear to be the case. The General Union will continue to raise this issue until things improve.

Labor Update Bulletin #72 (10/2019)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in Japan.


General Union Executive Officers

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I joined the union in October 1994, four months after I arrived in Japan. I was originally a workplace activist like many of our members and I organised a union at GEOS and was the branch chair. I have also had the pleasure of working as staff at the General Union, both full- and part-time, and have a chance to work with members in all kinds of workplaces across Japan. Hope to meet all of you. *

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This is Simon Cole. He is a vice-chair of the union and takes care of universities and schools. He has been too busy to write this.

(We forgive him.)

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guex 3 r ian photo guex 3 r ian title
I've been a member of the union for more than 20 years. It has helped me in my own workplaces and I've helped others in theirs. The older I get, the more I see the necessity of solidarity. My interests include ongoing training for teachers from language schools to universities. I also believe that we need to build solidarity with our Japanese colleagues if we are ever to improve working conditions. 

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guex 4 g joseph photo guex 4 g joe title
I'm from the U.S. and I've worked at the same language school in Japan for over 10 years. I joined the union because I wanted to ensure teachers' at my workplace were being treated with reasonable amounts of respect and dignity, and to help create a better workplace for myself and my co-workers. Each person who joins helps ensure better working conditions for all. 

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guex a toshi photo guex 5 a toshi title
I have known Mr.Yamahara, the founder of the General Union, since decades ago. I have served the union for several years and it is my honor to be part of this union because it is quite ordinary and, therefore, a really good union! It faithfully inherits the legacy of the labor union movements which came before it - in combination with modern technologies. I'll keep doing whatever I can for this union.

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guex bucky a guex b aaron title
I joined the union when a friend's advice convinced me that I'd rather be the sort of person who joins with others in trying to change things, than stay the sort who keeps to himself and complains about them.

Also, having been a long-term believer in the idea of unions and organizing, I decided I should put my money where my mouth was.

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guex a claudia photo guex a claudia title
I joined the Union half way during my stay in Japan, and I clearly see how my working conditions have improved. So did my quality of life. I hope to be able to help people the way I've been helped before, and I believe the General Union is the right place to do so. "Together we go further".

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guex b trent photo guex b trent title
I joined the General Union because I believe in union values. Such as fair pay for a fair day's work and better working conditions. Today, I work to promote these values in Japan and believe that the future of the General Union is looking more and more prosperous every day

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I have been a member of the General Union for about 20 years. I believe in workers' rights - and human rights - for which unions are a force for improving, maintaining, and achieving.

I hope to do my part in a larger cause.

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guex h nathan photo guex h nathan title
I joined the union to literally pay my dues. The union got me shakai hoken, and it was time to pay the union back for what it got me. I started to learn that a lot of the things I may have taken for granted - like paid holidays, social insurance, and pay increases - were a direct result of union work. I didn't want to just sit back - I wanted to take an active part to help others. 

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I've worked in education for 13 years and have seen how working conditions have declined. Witnessing all these unfair and bullying labor practices from companies, I couldn't take it anymore. I had never been unionized before; but here in Japan, what do we know about labor rights and how can we protect ourselves and fight injustice? The union negotiates better terms and working conditions for all of us.

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I've been a member of the General Union for more than 5 years, and a member of the executive committee for most of that time. The union secured a five-year contract for me and my colleagues, protected us from unfair overtime demands, and forced Gaidai to enroll us in social insurance programs. These are just some of the benefits I have received from the General Union. I hope I can help others.

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guex t willie photo guex t willie title
I grew up in Chicago, which is one of the most strongly union affiliated cities in the United States. As a result, I'm deeply familiar with what unions are capable of in terms of securing rights and benefits for all workers (and the only example of trickle-down economics that works). As Tokai chair, I'm available to help local members and affiliated branches as needed, and strive to do whatever I can to help.

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guex w shane photo guex w shane title
I've been teaching in Japan for a little over 15 years. In that time I have seen, heard, and experienced many examples of why strong unions are important for all workers. As a branch chair and member of the GUEC, I hope I can make a worthwhile contribution.

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guex y katsuji photo guex y katsuji title
In order to take promote the Japanese labor union movement and to develop it further, I joined the establishment of General Union in 1991. Ever since then, I have been a part of the history of this union through both victories and defeats. Although I suffered from a disease recently, my spirit remains the same. I will keep trying to contribute to the development of this union as long as I can.

Legal Defense Fund

We are opening up our 2nd annual drive to build the union's Legal Defense Fund. In the past year we have spent over 700,000yen for lawyers. None of this money is covered by union dues. It comes from our reserve fund and donations.

Last year we raised 233,000 yen in our LDF drive, with 47 people donating. Let’s do better this year.


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