"Know Your Rights" Seminar, a Great Success

Thanks to all of you who made our "Know Your Rights" Seminar a big success.

Sixty union and non-union members from around the country met on Sunday, 20 March to learn about their rights to an unlimited term employment contract, and health and pension enrolment. There was also a presentation from TELL (formerly Tokyo English Life Line) about their support of immigrants mental health issues in Japan as well as an introduction to their counseling services.


最低賃金署名・Minimum Wage Petition

Chair of the Central Minimum Wage Council

Petition for a minimum wage of 1,500 yen and a uniform national minimum wage

コロナ禍の中、日本では、非正規労働者や低賃金労働者の生活困窮が拡がっています。内閣府 「令和3年子供の生活状況調査の分析報告書」によると、現在の暮らしについて「苦しい」また は「大変苦しい」と回答した割合は、全体では 25.3%なのに対し、貧困層では 57.1%、ひとり 親世帯では51.8%になっています。また、「食料が買えなかった経験」は全体が 11.3%に対して 貧困層では 37.7%、ひとり親世帯では 30.3%となっています。
In the midst of the Corona disaster, the impoverishment of non-regular workers and low-wage earners is spreading in Japan. According to the "Report on the Analysis of the 2021 Survey of Children's Living Conditions" by the Cabinet Office, 25.3% of the total respondents answered that their current living conditions are "difficult" or "very difficult", while 57.1% of the poor and 51.8% of single-parent households answered that their current living conditions are "difficult" or "very difficult". In addition, 37.7% of the poor and 30.3% of single-parent households experienced not being able to buy food, compared to 11.3% of the total population.


GU Public Seminars - Know Your Rights at Work

The union will be holding open online seminars for members and non-members on Sunday, 20 March from 14:00 to 16:30.


Shakai Hoken (Health and Pension Insurance): Are you covered by these two important insurance? Find out why you should be covered and how to get covered including important changes to the enrolment criteria from October 2022.

Unlimited Term Contracts: Have you worked over five years for the same employer? You need to get an unlimited term contract to improve your employment security. University teachers especially are finding it more difficult as employers are trying to make use of a 10 year loophole. Good news from Tokyo courts over this matter

TELL (used to be Tokyo English Lifeline): Learn about TELL and how they can help you with your non-labour related issues.

14:00 - 14:50: Shakai Hoken & Unlimited Term Contracts

15:00 - 15:50: Shakai Hoken & Unlimited Term Contracts (university focused)

16:00 - 16:30: TELL Presentation

RSVP your attendance HERE!

General Union on JobsinJapan podcast

General Union general secretary Dennis Tesolat is interviewed on a number of current topics that will be of interest to foreign teachers in Japan.

The interview covers what the GU can do for those in smaller workplaces, ALTs and our plan to win changes, and university teachers and unlimited term contracts.

The interview also revisits the major NOVA bankruptcy in 2007.

Watch the Inside Japan episode 164 podcast, "Foreigner’s Working Rights in Japan | Union Secretary Dennis Explains".

Upcoming Solidarity Events

The General Union has grown a lot in the last year or so and with that growth come more responsibilities for us to participate in the larger labour movement around us. We hope that you can participate in some of these important actions.

If you can attend any of these actions by using the form at the end of this article.

1. Sanken Electric Tuesday, 16 November at 12:00 in Umeda (Osaka) 
Solidarity Protest Action to Support Dismissed Workers at a Japanese company in Korea.

2. Arrested at Sanken Electric Tokyo Rally and Held for Over Four Months
Petition to demand the swift release of our Zenrokyo brother, Mr Ozawa.

Download fillable PDF petition (English translation on pg. 2)


Non-renewal? 30 Days notice - no less!

Recently, a union member at a large, prominent eikaiwa was thrown a curve ball: for a variety of factors, this member was to have their limited term contract non-renewed.

As we at the General Union geared up for a fight, one of our branch officers discovered something important: the company had not given the member 30 days notice for non-renewal.


Eikaiwa Boss Tries to Slip Out of Paying, Gets Caught by The GU

The General Union recently concluded negotiations over payment for training, winning a teacher JPY80,000. A Nagano eikaiwa required a teacher to travel from Nagano all the way to Tokyo for multiple days of work training – all without pay!


Report on Government Negotiations

gu reportOn November 20, 2020, at the Lower House Diet Members’ #2 Office Building, a group of education workers’ unions under the umbrella of Zenrokyo (including the General Union, along with the Sapporo General Union), participated in negotiation and exchange of opinions with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor (MHWL), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Interior Ministry.

The agenda items for this year’s negotiation are listed below, with the relevant ministry for each.

1. Regarding COVID-19 experience so far, current situation, and from now on: MHWL

2. ALTs’ current situation and future: MEXT

3. Fiscal-yearly appointees: Interior Ministry

4. Shakai Hoken (health and pension insurance) enrollment conditions: MHWL

5. Related to switching to unlimited-term contracts: “10-year exception”, setting of contract limits: MEXT

In order to have discuss these issues as deeply as possible at this year’s negotiations, we submitted our questions and demands in writing at an early stage than last year.

After receiving written answers to these, we deliberated on these answers among the relevant unions, and were prepared in advance to engage in negotiation on the basis of these answers.

The demands and questions, along with their answers, are here:


Coronavirus - Industry Survey

The General Union has been fielding hundreds of consultations from both members and non-members over their current employment situation. Just from the consultations and the negotiations that we are doing, we can see a few very clear trends.

  • The major language schools, except for NOVA, are mainly shut down and teachers are receiving at least 60% of their actual wages.
  • Many part-time dispatch workers to companies and kindergartens, are having work cancelled without any time of wage compensation.
  • ALTs are mostly in their workplaces, some at home, and most report receiving 100% of their wages.
  • Private school and university teachers are mostly working at home (especially part-timers) with reports of mostly full-time private schools teachers still at work, and very few reports of complete non-payment of wages. The vast majority are reporting 100% wage payments.


Statement of the General Union on School Restarts in the Schools and Colleges Sector

covid 19 iThe General Union condemns the decision of the government to restart school classes from April.

If carried through at a time of rapid growth in COVID-19 cases it will put the lives of teachers, students and the general population in danger.

At the time of writing, the latest statements from the government appear to put a general reopening in doubt, with Hagiuda, the Education Minister, saying they (the government) will discuss the restart in prefectures with over 50 cases of COVID-19.

At the time of writing it is not clear whether or not individual schools will reopen.

While we strongly disagree with the move to restart classes in the present situation, if a decision is taken in many workplaces we may not be strong enough as a union to resist this.

If this happens our members will have no choice but to resume teaching classes.


Statement of the General Union on the COVID-19 Pandemic

covid 19 iThe General Union has received many consultation requests in regard to this pandemic.

While we are happy to report that most employers are behaving responsibly, a minority of language schools are laying off part time workers and refusing to pay the cancellation allowance of at least 60% of average wages.

Basically, they are off-loading their financial woes on those least able to afford it.

This increase in consultations has meant that we are not as quick in responding to emails and telephone calls and we ask for everyone's patience.

In a crisis situation like this, the work we do in the community as a whole is important and while member concerns are always a priority, we are sure that union members all support the vital work we are doing in the language industry, in both the for profit and schools sectors.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: 0900 on February 28 (2020)

covid 19We want to make sure our members and friends are safe during this period and hope that everyone will cooperate in containing this virus.

We also know that everyone must eat and support their families, so your most burning questions are about wages.

At 0900, a General Union official visited the Osaka Labour Bureau to confirm the pay situation during this period.

At the moment, there is NO direct order for any board of education, private company, universities, or other schools, to close due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Therefore all closings are currently based on the employer's own decision.


全国セミナー / National Seminar

labour rights seminar教育非正規労働者の権利を学ぼう

Labour Rights Education for Education Workers

福岡市: 7月7日 (Fukuoka: 7 July)   
名古屋市: 9月29日 (Nagoya: 29 September)
東京港区: 10月20日 (Tokyo: 20 October)   
岡山市: 10月27日 (Okayama: 27 October)
大阪市: 11月17日 (Osaka: 17 November) 



  • Health and Pensions
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  • Law and rights
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  • Unemployment Insurance
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  • Sexual Harassment
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  • Parity Campaign



    At the General Union’s 2017 Annual General Meeting, the assembled delegates passed a resolution for the union’s PARiTY campaign. We’ve recent seen a number of new laws and changes in Japan aimed at improving the situation for irregular (contract, part-time) workers and members voted for the General Union to start fighting to make sure that these laws are applied at our workplaces.

    Our experience shows us that even with laws on the books, without a strong union to enforce them in the workplace, employers will refuse to implement what the government has mandated.

    Our PARiTY campaign concentrates on four recent legal changes:

    1. Unlimited term contracts after five years of employment.
    2. Easier enrollment into health and pension insurance.
    3. Fairness and wage parity for dispatched workers.
    4. And new guidelines (which look set to become law) which mandates equal pay for work of equal value.

    Watch this page for updates on the law and especially for our work implementing these changes in members’ workplaces.

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  • Labor Bulletins
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Additional information