Report: Unions vs Government (2021/12/15)

On December 15, the General Union, with the cooperation of NUGW Headquarters and together with fellow NUGW unions Tokyo Nambu and Fukuoka General Union, as well as Sapporo Chusho Roren Regional Union (Sapporo General Union), engaged in negotiations with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor (MHWL) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).



[PICTURES] Osaka, General Union Joins March Against Police Repression

CaptureSunday, December 12th, representatives of the General Union were proud to participate in an Osaka rally to condemn police repression of labor union activists.

Rentai Union Kan-Nama Branch (All-Japan Construction and Transport Workers’ Solidarity Union, Kansai Regional Ready-Mix Concrete Branch) has been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown by prefectural police in Osaka and Shiga Prefectures. Many of our fellow members have been arrested and re-arrested. Read about it HERE.


Living and not surrendering to this coronavirus crisis caused by irresponsible politics

Special resolution for creating a movement to protect human life 
Osaka Zenrokyo (National Trade Union Council - Osaka) 

From the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 to the opening of this conference during the period when a fifth wave is about to begin, the coronavirus crisis has reached one year. With this continuing long pandemic, it has been a long period that both the labor movement and its various activities have had to be scaled back. However, with the spread of the coronavirus, dismissals and shift reductions, loaning out of employees, and so on, the burden has been shifted onto non-regular workers and women and the number of people suffering daily hardship has increased. For this reason, this was also a year of expectation among labor unions. Amid this, to say nothing of the lack of policy from the LDP-Komeito administration, foolish plans like the GoTo Travel campaign caused an explosion of infections and people were made to suffer even further.


Obituary: Remembering Yamahara Katsuji 1947 - 2020

He was known popularly to General Union members simply as Yamahara. No mister, no sir; just affectionately called Yamahara - and one of the most unpretentious people you could have ever met.

On 23 July 2020, Yamahara passed away quietly at his home 73 years after his birth in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka.

A union organiser since finishing school, Yamahara worked for many years for the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Sohyo) affiliated Metal and Machinery Workers Union (Zenkin) until its merger into the Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

During this time, he was a prominent Kansai area organiser not only due to his excellent strategies and tactics in protecting workers’ rights and lives, but also for his continuous efforts in strengthening ties between Japanese and international workers especially in Asia.

In his mid-forties, while many gave up on the idea that the Japanese labour movement could remain vibrant, he left Zenkin in order to organise a union that would be there for all workers and founded the General Union in 1991.


Japanese Company (Glassdoor) Review Roundup (2019/09)

glassdoor logoBecause there are a lot of dispatch companies, conversation schools, and universities across Japan, it can be really difficult to keep track of which company is which - and just as challenging to form a general idea of what kind of (subjective) reputation Company A has compared to Company B.

Enter - a "website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management".

To save you a good deal of time and effort, we've taken the liberty of rounding up a number of Glassdoor review scores for many of companies that someone in the English-language profession might be interested in to help you gain an idea of which employers might be good to work for - and which ones might be best to avoid.


Follow us on Facebook!

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook. We have an English page as well as a Japanese page. If you are a member of the union there may also be a private group page for your union branch. Just ask us.


On Measures To Reduce Overtime And Work Related Suicides

Workaholic Japan is known for long office hours and stressed-out employees, but one company claims to have a cure: cats. Read more at the Japan Times.


Want to know how we improve workplaces? Read the 2016-2017 full report!

Ever wonder what the General Union does? Wonder what places we’re active in? Want some ideas on how to improve your workplace?

Please download and read our 2016-2017 activity report covering over thirty workplaces. 

Do you work at any of these places and want to be part of our movement? Contact us anytime.

The General Union In The Japan Times: "Unions Can Offer A Hand"

Our venerable Union Chair, Dennis Tesolat, recently fielded a question from Japan Times writer Louise George Kittaka in regards to a labor issue in the eikaiwa (language school) industry.


Witnesses Soon to be Examined in West Japan Postal Service Article 20 Case!

Postal Industry Workers’ Union, Kinki
West Japan Article 20 Court Case NEWS FLASH #1

Based on Keidanren’s policy of “Japanese-style management for a new era”, announced in 1995, the government answered their call with an overall worsening of the system of labor laws. With labor costs then generally subject to cost-cutting pressure, irregular employment started growing in the mid 1990s. And now there are said to be 20 million irregularly-employed workers in this country. As a result, poverty and inequality have continued to grow for the past 20 years, becoming an unavoidable problem for society.


Beware - Rant Ahead [OP-ED]

A friend came across this "worksheet" floating around on the Internet, followed by praise for how "amazing" the worksheet was and various lofty claims about its effectiveness at teaching certain concepts.

At first, we had a good old incredulous laugh about it - but then I started thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know).


Are RENGO And The Japanese Government Sending More People To Their Death With New Overtime Law Proposals?

At first glance, the title of this article may seem sensationalist; but when you look at the new overtime law proposals that have been cooked up between the government, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), and RENGO (Japan’s most pro-company union federation) you have to wonder if such a claim is really all that hyperbolic.

Like so many laws that aim to “improve” things for workers, these proposals would codify levels of overtime that are already known to cause serious health problems and - in many cases - death.

Current overtime rules state that overtime must be limited to:

  • 5 hours per day
  • 45 hours per month
  • 360 hours per year


Employment Security (Conversion to Unlimited-Term Employment) : Two Emails from the Ministry

Some people may still be unaware, but in April of 2013 the Labor Contract Law changed so that “when, under repeated limited-term contracts, the total period of employment exceeds five years, the limited-term contract can be converted to an unlimited one upon the worker’s request”. In other words, workers who have been employed under multiple limited-term contracts for a total period of over five years  as of April 1, 2018, will become unlimited-term employees if they make a request to their company. (Please note this increases to ten years for some university positions that involve research.)


Shunto 2017 is about to start--are you ready?

Schedule finalized for rally, discussion, general action, and more

Feb. 9 Shunto Rally

The start of the 2017 Shunto in Osaka will be Union Network’s ‘17 Shunto Rally. A talk will be given on “The Background to the Movement Demanding the Resignation of South Korea’s President” by Kim Mitsuo (Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan).


Seminar - Wills & Inheritances in Japan

Even "back home" there are hordes of people who fail to plan properly and make wills, creating havoc for families in the event of death. And here in Japan, there is probably a much higher percentage of us who don't think about it, or put it in the "too difficult to deal with basket".


Japanese for workers – lesson 1

You might have heard the term seishain (正社員) but have you heard the word sennin(専任)? And how are they different?

Both words refer to employment status and both indicate that the worker is a permanent employee, most likely entitled to bonuses (not always), and in some cases, in particular at “rich” companies, even a big lump sum of cash upon their retirement. Depending on the length of employment, this can be over 10,000,000 yen.


Don't Forget - Autumn General Meeting


Next Sunday - Autumn General Meeting

This year we are proposing changes to both our constitution and By-laws. These changes are to reflect the reality that we are not just an Osaka based union but have members in many other regions in Japan.


Sunday's Picnic - CANCELLED

With one service putting the chance of rain from 10am at 70% we have decided to cancel. It had better rain or those weather people are getting an ear full.


Watami Unionized - Is that a good thing?

Watami (a chain of Japanese Izakaiya pubs) have recently made the Japanese newspapers over the announcement of a new union of 13,000 people. Only time will tell what that means. The major newspapers though, have failed to even attempt to analyze what the sudden appearance of such a large in-house union really means.

When a union of 13,000 suddenly appears, and has a compulsory membership placed upon employees... well, we have our doubts. 

One thing though - the agreement between the management and union, forced upon all employees, certainly promises a guaranteed income for the union.


The General Union - Chock Full of Action!

Interested in knowing more about what the General Union is involved in?

Since 2015, we have been producing a report of our main yearly activity. It’s interesting to see the number of workplaces - both big AND small - that we deal with, and the number of people impacted by our work. This current report covers General Union work from June 2015 to May 2016.


Set Aside November 13 - Voting On Proposed Changes

November 13, Sunday – Autumn General Meeting

As our union continues to grow steadily, more and more members are unable to attend our general meetings and exercise their voting rights.


Stop police frame-ups of union members

On May 2nd, 2016, the Public Security Division of the Osaka Prefectural Police raided sixteen houses of members from sister unions, arresting three people in the process. The reason for these raids? The police allege that a union rented a conference room at a discounted rate to allow a meeting of two groups - one of which is opposed to the United States military presence in Japan - was an act of fraud, and one that evidently warranted such a heavy-handed response.

Osaka Zenrokyo, with the support of numerous other unions (including the General Union), vehemently deny this claim.

A joint statement of protest has been released and co-signed by these unions; the content of which can be seen below:


Sunday May 22 - Annual General Meeting

Please remember the meeting is not at our Temmabashi office but at L Osaka on the other side of the station.

Click here for the Map

There are 2 starting times.


Rainbow Union Initiative!

Seeking motivated individuals to take part in a LGBTQIA+ focus group!

This group will spear head a LGBT resource guide as well as consider further actions the General Union can take to address sexual and gender identity inequality in the workplace!

Why do LGBT protections and support matter?


Noteworthy Quotes



Make 2016 a year of struggle! Let each union share their experience and together fight the good fight

2015, a year that will surely mark the start of a new era, is over. A new year has begun. This year even more than last, the Abe Government--based on that market fundamentalism they call “neo-liberalism”--is working on gutting the Constitution in order to push forward with military development jointly with the United States. When we look at the recent loosening of labor regulations, it looks just like some primitive kind of capitalism has come back to life, as if policy is now being made solely from the point of view of capital.


Union chair in the news. Asahi newspaper. 9 January 2016. Osaka-jin #8

Dennis Tesolat (45). Chair of a labor union with mostly foreign workers. Boldly protecting his fellow workers.

Collective bargaining and even court, while struggling with disease.

“Cheerful, loud – I love Osakans,” he laughs out speaking in Osaka dialect, swinging his large body in his wheelchair.

Mr. Dennis Tesolat, an Italian-Canadian, is 45 years old and lives in Asahi Ward in Osaka City.


On That Day, Thirteen Years Ago...

The year was 2002. Kelly Clarkson won the first ever American Idol Contest, the United Kingdom mourned the passing of the Queen Mother, Japan was basking in the afterglow of the Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup, and Star Wars Episode II was disappointing fans around the world.


Has Your Company Banned Your Laptop?

In Miyagi Prefecture, one major dispatch company has been informing its High School instructors that the Miyagi Prefectural Board of Education has told them that ALTs are NOT permitted to take their personal laptop (or tablets, etc) to their assigned schools.


Don’t let them debase the labor laws and increase death from overwork! Zenrokyo opposes the “zero overtime bill” and the amendments to the Workers Dispatch Law

Overshadowed by the talk in the mass media about the Diet debate over the Security (War) Bill, the lower-house Welfare and Labor Committee has begun discussions aimed at amending--worsening--the Dispatch Law. There was a movement to push it through the Diet early in June. This move was halted when the sudden problems happened with illegal access at the Pension Organization and leaking of personal data, but it will come up again soon anyway.


Great Wage Survey completed - Have a look!

Download it in pdf at

The Great Wage Survey is finished and ready for your perusal. We'd like to thank everyone who took part in getting the survey completed. Now we ask your help in getting it into the hands of your friends and co-workers.

The survey covered wages, working conditions, and the economic situation of mainly foreign workers teaching in private language schools, high/junior high/elementary schools, and universities, as well as those who teach in these workplaces and may have other jobs in either office or commercial settings as well as kindergartens.


Fight to Resist Worsening of the Labor Laws!

Lawyers’ Group to Host May 21 Emergency Assembly--All Join Forces!

The Abe government seems to be trying at any cost to make Japan “the easiest country in the world to do business in”. LDP governments before now have consigned postwar worker-protection laws to oblivion one after another, pushing relentlessly on with the passing of the Dispatch Law and so on, but now they are trying to finish it all off.


メーデー : International Labour Day Celebration

Participate in May Day!

What do you call May 1st? International Workers' Day or Labour Day? The name will change depending what part of the world you are from but May 1st has been celebrated as a workers' day since the late 1880's.

As usual, here in Osaka, we will be participating with affiliated unions. There are 3 events during the day so people can join in as they please.


March 11 - Osaka Shunto Demonstrations

March 11 - Shuntō (春闘) is a Japanese term, translated as "spring labor offensive". Negotiations and industrial action are held during this period seeking salary increases along with other improvements in working conditions. It's history dates back to the 1940's

In Kansai, our federation and other associated unions will be demonstrating at various companies across Osaka. Targets for the General Union include Osaka City where we are negotiating to break 3 year term limits for city hired Native English Teachers, amongst fighting for other improvements. We will also be demonstrating in Takatsuki City against the Board of Education’s arbitrary decision to cancel the AET program after teachers dared to move out of sub-standard housing and joined a union.


Dear John Doe

Thank you for your anonymous email from a hidden email address.

You wrote about a number of problems at your company that are most likely illegal. But what is the use of writing if you are unwilling to sit down and talk with us? We aren't the police, and we can't go storming in with batons and handcuffs, ready to arrest the owner.


Defeat the "Zero Overtime Pay" Bill! Stop karoshi and regulate working hours

It seems that the Abe government's goal is to make Japan "the world's easiest country to do business in". And so the notorious "white-collar exemption", already rejected once, has come up yet again. Presumably as a part of this, a debate has already begun at the Labor Policy Council within the Welfare and Labor Ministry over a new system, one that would drastically loosen the Labor Standards Law regulations on working hours, and would have wages decided not by hours worked, but by results achieved.


Stop! Think before you upload that cute student photo

Does your school have specific rules about taking pictures with students, and about uploading them to social media?


General Union supports Hong Kong protests. So can you.

At the request of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions our union has submitted a protest letter (see below) to both the President of China and the CEO of Hong Kong protesting their attacks on pro-democracy protesters and strikers.


What made you join the union?

As a union of mostly migrant workers we put a lot if effort into recruiting new members as people are regularly returning to their home countries. Recruitment is essential for us. We do a lot of different activities to make the union attractive to new members. We hold open meetings, we make leaflets, YouTube videos , we stand outside schools ready to talk to people willing to listen, but in the final analysis, whether people join or not, comes down to our current members.


Joining the GU: Now more than ever, no time to waste

DON’T WAIT FOR A PROBLEM TO JOIN: THE TIME IS NOW! One person’s problem could very well become yours in the near future; this may sound cliché, but it is very true indeed.


Hanami Party, Sunday April 8th - 1pm

It's that time of year again - time for getting together and enjoying spring at our annual Hamami party by the river. This year we are having Brazilian BBQ!



Additional information