Through Union Pressure, Waseda University Retracts Five-Year Employment Limit

As the General Union has previous reported ("Ritsumeikan University Changes Part-Time Employment System"), a number of universities have adopted employment "limits" on limited-term, part-time employees in an effort to prevent them from applying for unlimited-term contracts after five years of continuous employment, as directed by the revised  Labour Contract Renewal Law of 2012.

One of the universities that adopted this spurious policy was Waseda University (早稲田大学, Waseda Daigaku), which Wikipedia states is considered to be "one of Japan's most prestigious universities, consistently ranking amongst the top universities in Japanese university rankings. The university has many notable alumni in Japan, with seven Prime Ministers of Japan and many CEOs, including Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of UNIQLO."

The revised Labor Contract Renewal Law came into force in April of 2013. In this law, workers who have repeatedly renewed a definite-term employment contract, and have worked more than five years, can apply to change the contract to indefinite-term contract.

In anticipation of this law revision, Waseda University changed its office regulations and adopted the "five year limit" in March of 2013 - just a month before the revisions were made into law.

The Capital Area University Part-Time Teacher's Union believed this to be illegal. They asserted that Waseda University was committing unfair labor practices relating to discrimination within the collective bargaining sessions on this issue, and ultimately decided to lodge a complaint with the Tokyo Municipal Labor Relations Commission.

As a result of this protest, Waseda University prompted decided to settle with the Teacher's Union by withdrawing the employment-term limits that they had put in place.

On November 25th, the Teacher's Union held a press conference and shared the details of the settlement with the public, perhaps paving the way for similar successes at other universities that have also adopted these exploitative measures.

According to the settlement agreement, for part-time teachers who started work before March 31st, 2014, one year after the change of the office regulations:

(1) The five years upper limit have been withdrawn,

(2) all employment limits have been retracted

(3) part-time teachers who have worked for more than five years have the right to apply for the indefinite-term contract (as of April, 2018).

For part-time teachers who started to work after April 1st, 2014, the upper limit of definite-term employment is set to ten years.

According to the Teacher's Union, Waseda University has about 3,000 part-time teachers. Mr.Eiji Ohno, the representative of Waseda Union of Capital Area University Part-time Teachers' Union, says: "This settlement has stopped the limitation of five years for the employment and paved the path to indefinite-term employment. It is also consistent with the amended law and very meaningful."

Waseda University says, "Although some issues were encountered during the process of negotiation, a settlement has been made on these issues that both parties comprehensively agree upon. We will sincerely continue to negotiate."

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