Other Companies

That Time Heart Corporation Angered The Philippines

poeaOn July 5th, 2019, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), part of the Republic of the Philippines's Department of Labor and Employment, issued a remarkable news release entitled: "BEWARE OF JAPAN SCHOOL ILLEGALLY RECRUITING FILIPINO TEACHERS"

In this news release, the POEA singled out Heart Corporation (aka Heart English School) for the "illegal recruitment of Filipino English instructors in Japan" and visa-fraud in the form of "facilitating the travel of the teachers as tourists or the conversion of student visas to teacher visas of those already in Japan".

Heart Corporation is said to have continued to "defy" the POEA "on the premise that it is a Japanese company and it has no obligation to abide by Philippine regulations".

Just what is going on here?

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Your Company Is Not Your Friend [OP-ED]

I'm loathe to admit that, when I came to Japan nearly a decade ago, I - like so many others (everyone, perhaps?) - was one of those people who had bought into the idea that companies in Japan cared about their employees.

I remember reading a gushing article about how Japanese managers treat their employees like "flowers" that needed to be "watered and cared for" in order to "make the company grow" - a unique blending of social harmony and corporate culture with an understanding that people, not profits, were the drives and gears that kept everything running smoothly.

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Working Without A Visa? "Run. Don't Walk. Run Away."

Spotted over on the r/teachinginjapan sub-reddit, here's another anecdote of a company attempting to coax a naive foreigner with the usual assurances that they'll handle all of that pesky immigration nonsense AFTER said foreigner comes to Japan and starts working for them (illegally).

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Hey, Joytalk: "Homework" Is Still "Work"

Joytalk, an eikaiwa-come-dispatch-company that has its tendrils in northern Japan, doesn't seem to understand what the word "homework" means. On June 14th (2017), a "Joytalk ALT Manager" sent out an "a very important email" that contained "information pertinent to the homework assignment" that they were asking their employees "to have completed for training". Notably lacking from that e-mail, however, were any details about how much overtime pay ALTs would receive for doing this additional work.

Wait, what's that? "Homework" is actually work? It sure is! The clue is in the name!

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Joytalk: A Cautionary Tale

"Joytalk" has become known to the General Union as a name that usually precedes a story of woe soon to follow. Indeed, whenever we see the word "joy" and "talk" together in the same sentence, it's usually a sign that someone is having a bad time.

We've mentioned them before in regards to contracts that forbid resignation, privacy concerns, forcing teachers to brave typhoons, and serious allegations of breaking immigration law.

Today, we have yet another cautionary tale which involves more accusations of immigration law shenanigans.

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From Reddit: "Don't Work Without A Visa (And Think Twice About Working For Joytalk)"

With April quickly approaching, it will soon be "that time of year" again - a time in which many foreigners dance to the tune of impending transfers, turnovers, and replacements while Boards of Education across Japan throw money around in the hope that dispatch companies will be the solution to the very problems that dispatch companies create (and so the prophecy fulfils itself).

Those who are caught up in this annual waltz often find themselves with a number of decisions to make and, often, the idiom of "any port in a storm" seems an apt descriptor: when one is having serious trouble, one must accept any solution, whether one likes the solution or not; when one wants to live in Japan by any means necessary, one must accept any job, regardless of the reputation of the company that they want to work for.

In such a situation, the question of "at what cost?" might not be all that important - but do the ends always justify the means?

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Heart Corporation - Can My Company Tell Me What I'm Allowed To Eat?

We recently received this email from an ALT with Heart Corporation:

"My manager told me that I must sit and eat with students during their lunch period. I don’t mind as it is part of my job responsibilities but the manager said I have to eat the school lunch. Worse than that, when I checked the company manual, it said that I am not allowed to eat any outside food at all, even in the teachers’ room. Is this legal?"

Article 6.9 - "Aside from approved ALT-brought lunches, it is not acceptable to chew gum or eat outside food in the school at any time, including the teacher’s room."

Rest assured, none of this is legal. 

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The Situation With Altia Central

This is an update which has been sent to all of the Altia Central teachers with whom we are in contact. For the sake of informing as many people as possible (for example, people with Altia Central who may be out of the loop, or others who are considering Altia Cental as an employment option), we think it would be prudent to share this information to the public, too.

Here is what has been happening, and what will likely happen in the coming weeks:

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Failing To Think Before Clicking, Heart Coporation Leaks E-Mail Address

On December 7th, in a bizarre and unsolicited e-mail, Heart Corporation / Heart English School carelessly revealed the private e-mail addresses of numerous people - many of whom appear to have never actually worked for the company or, in the case of the union member who passed this information along, left the company several years ago.

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Fukuoka Board of MISeducation wants legal changes

Fukuoka Now magazine has reported that the Fukuoka Board of Education (BoE) is asking the central government to relax some changes in the Worker Dispatch Law in order to offer more vibrant English classes.

Currently, Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) working for the Fukuoka BoE are being dispatched to their schools on a "gyomu itaku" subcontracting basis. This means that they are on consignment from a private dispatch company so the BoE is not allowed to guide the teachers' work without committing subcontracting fraud.

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Minerva Language Institute Labour Commission Case Settled

On March 18, 2014, the union lodged an unfair labour practice case against Minerva Language Institute (Minerva) for failing to negotiate at the Osaka Labour Relations Commission.

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Fast-tracking unfair labor practice case against Minerva (BL Kids International School)

After an early morning secretariat meeting today, two union officers are busy preparing documentation to lodge an unfair labor practice case against Minerva.  We expect to be able to file the case at the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission by lunchtime tomorrow.

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Being an ALT in Japan - The Video Handbook

The General Union is producing a video handbook for working in Japan as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). We'll be covering topics such as taxes, health insurance, housing, and workplace issues.

Feel free to email us if you would like your questions answered alt(@)generalunion.org.

ALTs Open Meeting - October 21

For the first time, we are opening our Osaka October General Meeting to non-members.

We will be holding a series of seminars, or workshops, about the law and workers' rights. There will also be a meeting aimed specifically for ALTs. It is open to members and non-members alike.

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ALTs - Have you received a health check?

Some dispatch companies, but not all, provide annual health checks. Japan has one of the highest rates of tuberculous in the western world, and as a result, School Health & Safety Law mandates that teachers must be tested yearly.

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W5 signs labor agreement with union

The General Union and W5 Staff Services (ALT Dispatcher), have recently signed a collective agreement* covering the following.

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Okayama City Board of Education forced to apologize

Many Boards of Education recognize the legal obligation to negotiate with the General Union some out there try to escape their legal duty. Okayama City BoE is one of those.

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Shakai Hoken @ Altia Central

In a bid to save costs, Altia Central have been known to arbitrarily change teachers' contracts and remove them from Shakai Hoken (health & pension). The union has won continued enrollment in shakai hoken for a group of ALTs who were dis-enrolled when they renewed their contracts in April, 2011. The union applied for collective bargaining and Altia quickly agreed to the continued enrollment of our members.

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General Union Sues Okayama City Board of Education

After many years of service as elementary school ALTs, two union members were notified by Okayama City Board of Education that their contracts would be terminated as of March 31, 2011.

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Open Meeting for Suita ALTs

Improve your Working Conditions Come along and find out more about your working conditions and rights! Date: Sunday, January 23 Time: 3-4pm Place: General Union Osaka Office near Temmabashi station(Tanimachi and Keihan Lines) Click here for directions.

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Health Checks – They’re mandatory!

For many westerners, the idea of a state mandated health check smacks of a nanny state, and we are often reluctant to submit to the tests. While not all companies obey this law, the fact remains it is compulsory for all employees to have an annual health check under article 66 of the act.

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OWLS Dispatch company ordered to repay illegal salary deductions to twenty teachers

Company ordered to drop illegal penalties

At the Fukuoka General Union (FGU), the company which seems to generate the most grievances is OWLS.They are a dispatch company that has contracts with Kita-kyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture and a number of other Boards of Education.

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Aichi Labour Bureau: Tokai City breaks dispatch law

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have sent out a notification to all the local Boards of Education (BOEs) judging the contracting-out of Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) work to be illegal.

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Dispatch Averted, Pay Cuts Stopped

With rumors of their direct hire positions going to dispatch, five ALTs from Kofu city in Yamanashi prefecture contacted the General Union.

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ALT Dispatch and Outsourcing – What do Japanese Teachers think?

Do Japanese teachers in public schools know what dispatch (haken) and subcontracting (gyoumuitaku) mean for foreign ALTs’working conditions? How do they think ALT dispatch and outsourcing will affect the quality of English education?

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Tokai Board of Education found guilty of illegal dispatch

After more than six months of union action, Tokai Board of Education has been found guilty of illegal dispatch by the Aichi Prefectural Labor Board.

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Tokai City ALTs - video update

Despite repeated requests for collective bargaining, Tokai City and Tokai City Board of Education repeatedly refuse to negotiate over the issue of the illegal dispatch of Assistant Language Teachers.

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ALT Meetings - Kansai & Nagoya

Come to an meeting and find out what the General Union is doing to improve the working conditions of ALTs. You will have the chance to ask questions and share your concerns. Osaka Date: Sunday, January 24, 2010

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ALTs across Japan are joining the union

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ALT furniture: A look at ALT dispatch contracts in Fukuoka

-by Chris Flynn, Fukuoka General Union         ALTs have become a regular part of the Japanese educational landscape—or perhaps I should say like a piece of educational furniture.

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