Language Teachers in Japan – Don’t Scab for ECC!

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If you have been following recent news about ECC, you are already aware that unionized workers – mostly instructors – are on a strike.

The ongoing labor dispute centers around years of stagnant wages and an unfair make-up workday policy. Union members are determined to strike for as long as necessary for ECC to come back to the negotiating table with something worthwhile.

Support from many professionals in the language teaching industry in Japan, as well as friends, family, and representatives from other Japanese unions assure us that our cause is just, and our morale is high!

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ECC Teachers Strike Against Stagnant Pay, Overwork

strike 2Today, Saturday April 16th, ECC teachers and other ECC workers are on strike as General Union urges ECC to continue negotiations to settle complaints that its employees have been making for years now.

 

This strike is a long time in the making and its roots go back all the way to 2016, if you would believe it, when ECC introduced its “35 Hour Teaching Staff” contract for foreign employees.

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"GET ON" AEON Outreach Campaign a Growing Success

GETON ThumbnailEarly March 2022, unionized teachers at AEON language schools took a shot in the dark and organized an ambitious, nation-wide mailing campaign to reach out to coworkers across Japan. Since the project’s start, General Union has received a great positive response from teachers that shows that AEON workers are hungry for better working conditions.

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Berlitz, ECC Workers Demand a Pay Rise in Reaction to Government Plan

The Berlitz and ECC branches of the General Union recently issued their annual demands to their respective employers. Among other things, both branches have demanded percentage-based pay raises for members across the board – and that is no coincidence!

In early December 2021, the ruling coalition of the Japanese government issued an outline of the 2022 tax reforms. This is part of Prime Minister Kishida’s push for a “new capitalism” intended to create a “post-Covid-19 society” premised on equitable distribution of profits and the “virtuous cycle” of corporate growth -> employee growth -> consumer growth -> corporate growth, etc.

Among a slew of new rules, revisions, and incentives, one offers large employers who grant permanent wage hikes of at least 3% to all employees a 15% tax credit on their annual income taxes.

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ECC, Union reach agreement

ECC members of the General Union began negotiations for the 2021 year in March 2021. Members had already spent one year negotiating regularly over company measures regarding the pandemic and were keen to begin negotiating for real changes to their working conditions.

Top on the agenda for change were the working conditions for a new contract type introduced five years prior. The new contract type had many conditions that were meant to purposely thwart the benefits of the "unlimited term contracts" which began in 2018 after changes to the Labour Contract Law.

The new contract type included longer working hours, purposely replaced pay increases with yearly bonuses, increased yearly working days, and limited the contract to four renewals. The company showing their true intent also forbade pay increases for those on the previous contract type who had applied for unlimited term contracts.

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Questions for GABA Corporation

questions 2As we enter the winter of 2021-22, the General Union continues to raise issues with Gaba regarding COVID-19, health and safety in the workplace, and transparency.

As of mid-October 2021 the official COVID cases in Japan have dropped, although deaths are still averaging dozens a day. Gaba has improved its protective measures over the last year and a half, which is good to see. It placed signs about correct mask-wearing, corrected clients who didnt wear masks correctly and required everyone in the LS to wear non-woven masks for better protection.

Unfortunately, the fifth wave of summer 2021 saw a large spike in cases, with not all serious cases able to be hospitalized and many deaths, a number of which should have been prevented. There were a number of cases related to Gaba Learning Studios. While the fifth wave has subsided, COVID has not disappeared, and the authorities are preparing for a possible sixth wave.

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General Union ECC Branch: Solidarity & Action Online Rally

The ECC Branch of the General Union has called two strikes for 30 October and 6 November and will be holding a Rally for Solidarity and to Call Out ECC on Sunday, 17 October at 10am and 8pm.

ALL General Union members are urged to come for a show of support for their union mates at ECC.

The General Union ECC Branch is the largest branch in the General Union. As such, they have played a pivotal role in shaping the fight for eikaiwa workers’ rights in the language teaching industry in Japan.

A victory for the GU anywhere is a victory for union members everywhere! Showing that we stick together wherever we work, puts all employers on notice!

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Shots at Eikaiwa

In early July, Before the vaccine supplies issues occurred, we sent a letter to the six main Eikaiwas AEON, Berlitz, ECC, GABA, Nova and Shane recommending what they should do to safeguard their workers’ health and economic wellbeing during the vaccine process. We recommended getting the vaccine should be considered worktime (either paid or being vaccinated during work time) and paid time off for any side effects. This is similar to what companies such as Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, Yahoo Japan, Soft Bank and Mercari Co already did back in May 

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ECC Teachers Vote to Strike!

The ECC Branch of the General Union – the single largest workplace branch in the General Union – has voted to go on strike after ECC’s management repeatedly rejected workers’ demands centered on employee health, pay, and mandatory “holiday make-up” workdays.

The vote was held after a spirited two-hour, all-member meeting Sunday, August 30th. The broad sentiment of attendees was that ECC failed to show sympathy or even fairness for its employees at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is endangering teachers’ health as well as creating classroom chaos with unclear and unpopular policies.

From the list of demands ranging from long commute allowances to fair treatment of non-limited term contract workers, the leading demand of unionized teachers is the abolition of extra workdays that teachers are required to do to “make up” for national holidays that fall on their normal workdays.

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Demanding Safety at GABA

safety firstThe COVID-19 pandemic is continuing with record cases in Japan, especially in the Tokyo area. The General Union believes that protecting workers health and economic position is the top priority.

So, we have submitted demands to GABA that we believe protect the health of clients, instructors and staff. As well as maintaining a livable income for Gaba Instructors.

These demands include protecting workers current rates of payment if they reduce their lessons for the purposes of safety, make the current difficult lesson cancellation system simpler and efficient, make sure air flow is at a premium, ensure covid-19 testing is done above the standards of the public health center and promote transparency for all covid19 cases at a GABA LS.

With GABA workers and the General Union working together we believe can make the workplace safer for all.

A list of the demands can be seen here.

Additional information