Kobe Shoin Women's University Sued At Osaka Labour Commission

Uncooperative And Uncompromising: Kobe Shoin Wins Trip To Osaka

In the middle of a pandemic and state of emergency, Kobe Shoin Women's University did what no other university, board of education, or private company have done: they refused to hold negotiations online.

Not only did we ask for collective bargaining in the middle of a pandemic, the demands themselves were over keeping union members online after the state of emergency ended on 11 May.

Their answer? “Sure we'll meet you. Come to our university in Hyogo Prefecture after 19:00 and we'll be happy to chat."

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Hands Off! Don't touch our Koma!

Union launches campaign for NO REDUCTION in 2022 koma!

Every year since 2011, about this time of year the union begins thinking about our members' koma in the next year and how to prevent them from being reduced.

This is because we decided that the best way to prevent cuts in koma is not to wait till they are lost, but to act first. We do this by surveying members to check which university they want to declare their union membership to as part of our union demands for NO REDUCTION in their next year's koma. Most universities have reacted very well to this by not cutting union members’ koma.

For example, in the 2020 academic year...

Demands sent to: 37 universities covering 125 member jobs
No koma cuts: 34 universities covering 118 member jobs
Koma cut: 3 universities covering 6 member jobs

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Part-Time At A Doshisha University? Your Time Might Be Limited...

The union has made some progress in negotiations with Doshisha University and Doshisha Women's College, mainly in clearing up a previously unanswered mystery: how long can a part-timer work at Doshisha?

And the answer is...

It depends on when you were hired.

Doshisha has finally clarified that those hired from 1 April 2016 are limited to nine renewals, and those hired before have no limitation on their renewals.

In collective bargaining, Doshisha maintained that all teachers had a nine-renewal limit. We finally now have a clear answer to the question.

But why a nine-renewal limit?

It sounds strange to us, and we know it sounds strange to Doshisha part-timers who were hired in 2016.

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Osaka Prefecture Calls On Universities To Halt Face-To-Face Classes

At a press conference on 13th of April, amid a rapid growth of COVID-19 infections in the Osaka area, prefectural governor Yoshimura announced new measures to fight the pandemic.

These included a request for schools to stop club activities and for universities to suspend face to face classes and move to online classes.

Whilst for now this is only in the Osaka, area it marks a major break from the policy of the Education Ministry which had been pushing universities to teach at least 70% of classes online - with even teachers with pre-existing conditions (making them more vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus) being pressured into teaching face-to-face.

The reversal was based on the failure of the existing policies of early closing of drinking/dining establishments to halt the spread. The rapid spread of the virus threatens to collapse the local health care system with over 92% of beds now full.

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Union Pushes Back As Kindai University's Policy Of "Business As Usual" Puts Members At Risk

kindai smallIn February, the General Union Kindai Branch held collective bargaining session with Kindai University, during which we demanded that teachers be given the option of teaching online if they had medical conditions that put them at increased risk of contracting COVID and/or becoming severely ill.

At the time, Kindai told us that they were still uncertain of their policies for the upcoming semester, and we were alarmed by the suggestion that a medical certificate would not be sufficient and that an interview with one of their administrative staff would be required.

Then began what seemed to be a never ending effort to delay and stonewall the talks and their policy decisions in an attempt (we believe) to discourage teachers from applying for exemptions at all - and to prevent a rush of applications that they feared may eventuate if word got out that some teachers had been granted exemptions several weeks before the semester commenced.

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Union Prepares Dispute Against Doshisha

For many months now the union has been trying to settle a number of different problems with Doshisha.

As you may know, Doshisha is a major and important institution in the Kansai area and as an organisation with a good reputation.

The union expects that they take their labour relations seriously and act responsibly to meet their obligations to their employees. 

As you can imagine we were shocked when Doshisha answered these obligations with intransigence and even fired back with contract non-renewals of union members working in the girls junior and senior high school.

So what problems was the union trying to settle?

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The GU knows what it's talking about when it comes to unlimited term contracts at universities

The union has been involved at numerous workplaces dealing with universities' refusal to grant unlimited term contracts after 5 years as per the changes to the Labour Contract Law (see here for more information on this law)

Many universities are holding out by using an exception granted to the universities which lets them wait till after the tenth year to grant an unlimited term contract. But this exception ISN'T in all cases and ISN'T for all instructors teaching in a university. Famously, even Tokyo University did a U-turn on this when challenged by it's union.

Basically, the instructor must be hired under any of the three categories outlined in the "Act on Term of Office of University Teachers" (often referred to as NINKI-TSUKI or NINKI-HO) or an of the three categories in the "Act on Revitalisation of Science and Technology/Inovation Creation", and told very clearly upon hiring, in writing, which category they fall into.

Most of the universities that we deal with have usually not done this at all, or have simply written the name of the act (or other such language) in the contract.

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University & College Pandemic Response - UPDATED

The General Union sent information requests to 75 universities and senmon gakko across Japan where members and consultees work.

We asked the following:

1. That all universities do not restart face-to-face classes from the second semester.

2. That teachers, especially those with either certified or uncertified underlying mental or physical health conditions or due to a more advanced age, or live with others in the same situation, be allowed to teach online.

3. As hybrid approaches that use both online and face-to-face lessons put a lot of extra burden on teachers, teachers not be required to prepare for hybrid approaches.

4. That your university be transparent in reporting outbreaks of Coronavirus at the institution" and/or "among faculties, students and staff".

Approximately one-third have responded, you can find the information of the universities we wrote to and those that responded by clicking here.

Hats Off To Osaka Gaigo Members - Two Annual Pay Rises In A Row!

hats offThis is what determination looks like!

Osaka Gaigo members win 1.3% across the board pay raise for 2020.

This on top of a 2% 2019 pay rise!

Want to win improvements at your workplace? Osaka Gaigo members show you what you can achieve with determination.

Back in 2013, despite falling teacher and student numbers, the General Union's Osaka Gaigo Branch decided that it was time to stop the long freeze on their pay.

The reasoning was simple: although student numbers were declining, the school was replacing retiring full-time regular and contract workers with part-timers, thus reducing their costs.

Furthermore, we clearly knew that their Tokyo school was doing very well and was building a new campus.

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5% Wage Demand at Osaka Gaigo

Union members who were involved in a long labour dispute with their employer from 2013 which culminated in the Supreme Court turning down the school's refusal to follow the Osaka Labour Commission ruling ordering the employer to share financial data with the union, have submitted demands for 5% pay increase as well as access to financial data.

While members secured a 2% increase in 2019, we feel that asking for an additional pay increase after the school's stalling tactics of filing appeal after appeal since 2013, is very reasonable. Members note another increase in student numbers (still to be clearly established as it's only February) which points to the employer's improved financial situation and ability to increase pay.

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