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Labor Update Bulletin #104 (01/2021)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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Labor Update Bulletin #103 (12/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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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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21 February - Free Webinar for Filipino Workers in Japan

What you need to know as an OFW in Japan.

Free Webinar: 21 February from 1800 to 2000 via Zoom.
(regitration at www.bit.ly/OFW-seminar)

Seminar will cover:

Japan Labor Standards Law (wages, contracts, holidays and leaves, health insurance, pension, etc.)

Union membership (rights and protection of unions and its members, remedies for unfair labor practices, testimonies from current Filipino members, etc.)

Philippine government rules concerning Filipinos working in Japan

Other labor issues and concerns in Japan (Q&A with participants)

The seminar will mainly be focussed on Filipino teachers in Japan but all Filipino workers will find this seminar helpful and all are welcome to attend.

Download a copy of our poster and send it to your friends.

On facebook, find an event listing at: https://www.facebook.com/events/853487658819435

Kick Off 2021 by Signing the Postal Industry Workers Union Petition

Petition for Equal Treatment and Regular Employment for Irregular Postal Staff

SIGN HERE!

Japan Post Group and its related companies have a total of about 190,000 irregular employees (part-timers, limited-term contract employees etc.) working as essential members of their staff.

The court case over Article 20 of the Labor Contract Act, filed by eleven irregular post office workers who sought correction of the disparity in work conditions between them and the regular employees, finally saw a Supreme Court verdict on October 15, 2020. This was widely taken up in the news media.

The ruling recognized disparities as “unreasonable and illegal” with regard to family allowances, year-end and New Year work allowances, premium wages for holiday work during the New Year period, unpaid sick leave, and summer and winter vacations. For housing allowances, the Superior Courts have already found disparity to be unreasonable. On the day of the Supreme Court verdict, Japan Post Commented that “In view of the importance of the problem, we will work on making the necessary adjustments to our system”. Now the companies of Japan Post Group must each obey the ruling and promptly carry out its requirements by amending their work rules and pay schedules accordingly.

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Labor Update Bulletin #102 (12/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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Labor Update Bulletin #101 (11/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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Labor Update Bulletin #100 (11/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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Report on Government Negotiations

gu reportOn November 20, 2020, at the Lower House Diet Members’ #2 Office Building, a group of education workers’ unions under the umbrella of Zenrokyo (including the General Union, along with the Sapporo General Union), participated in negotiation and exchange of opinions with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor (MHWL), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Interior Ministry.

The agenda items for this year’s negotiation are listed below, with the relevant ministry for each.

1. Regarding COVID-19 experience so far, current situation, and from now on: MHWL

2. ALTs’ current situation and future: MEXT

3. Fiscal-yearly appointees: Interior Ministry

4. Shakai Hoken (health and pension insurance) enrollment conditions: MHWL

5. Related to switching to unlimited-term contracts: “10-year exception”, setting of contract limits: MEXT

In order to have discuss these issues as deeply as possible at this year’s negotiations, we submitted our questions and demands in writing at an early stage than last year.

After receiving written answers to these, we deliberated on these answers among the relevant unions, and were prepared in advance to engage in negotiation on the basis of these answers.

The demands and questions, along with their answers, are here:

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Labor Update Bulletin #99 (10/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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Labor Update Bulletin #98 (10/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

Read more...

Unlimited Term Contracts at Universities - Webinar & Survey

The General Union, NUGW Tokyo Nambu, and Fukuoka General Union invite all university teachers to a webinar on unlimited term contract rights on Sunday, 6 December from 13:30 online (www.bit.ly/UTC-webinar). You can also download a PDF of our leaflet to send to a friend.

Also, as part of this campaign to secure unlimited term contract rights, we are dealing with a number of uncooperative universities that are trying to evade the law. We need your help in identifying these institutions. Go to our survey to let us know how your universities compares (www.bit.ly/UTC-survey).

Did you know that as of 2018, those having worked continuously for five years at the same university are eligible for an unlimited term contract?

Q: Unlimited term contract (UTC)? What’s that?

It’s an employment contract without an arbitrary end date and is a new right that came along with an amendment to the Labour Contract Law in 2013.

Many of us currently work on one-year contracts which require a renewal year to year, but a UTC requires no renewal. This means that if an employer wants to get rid of you, basically they would have to fire you; not just wait out the year and then refuse to give you another contract.

Does this mean you have a job for life with the exact number of koma on the same exact day and time? No, but it does mean that if all remains the same (student numbers, curriculum, etc) you can keep working and we would argue, should be able to retain your koma (the latter part has still to be tested out in court).

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Help Us Launch "A New Deal for ALTs"

Take the 2-minute ALT survey at www.bit.ly/surveyALT.

A common saying in the ALT world is “Everyone’s situation is different,” and this is very true. Our situation truly is different from the regular, licensed, teachers we work with every day. We are in the school, but are often not part of the school.

We are subjected to odd requirements. Many of us are not enrolled in the social safety nets that our fellow teachers are, especially those employed as dispatch ALTs.

We are not given bonuses (or if we are, we suddenly find our regular pay being cut to make up for it). We are not afforded the stability of a regular contract. Many are simply not paid enough to live in Japan while working a single job.

In short, we are deeply concerned that ALT jobs are being turned into poverty jobs. This not only affects the ALTs' livelihood, but also the quality of ALT programmes as many can simply no longer afford to be an ALT regardless of their passion for the work and their dedication to the students.

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Labor Update Bulletin #97 (10/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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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.

Labor Update Bulletin #96 (09/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

Read more...

Labor Update Bulletin #95 (09/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

Read more...

Income Support and the Pandemic

Many workers in Japan are suffering economically from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic. There is some relief.

1. Kyugyo Teate: salary benefits that your employer must pay if there is no work for you and you are sent home.

2. Employment Adjustment Subsidy: paid to employers to cover KYUGYO TEATE payments to employees.

3. Sustainment Benefit for Freelancers: if you are a non-employee (like many members at GABA and NOVA), you can apply to receive up to one million yen in benefits.

4. Special Cash Payment: 100,000 yen subsidy available to all who were registered residents of Japan as of 27 April 2020.

Please see an explanation of the four systems at this link.

Unbelievable. Uncooperative. Unacceptable. NOVA Never Stops Surprising

The union entered our September 11th collective bargaining session with a positive attitude: NOVA, after a summer of strikes, had told us that they wanted to build a positive relationship with the union.

However, our hope for reaching an agreement on a number of issues (especially those regarding the pandemic) was deflated almost as soon as the talks began.

We had hoped that NOVA, like other employers in the language industry, would agree to a system to help prevent incidents of coronavirus infection by establishing an information sharing system with the union.

At other language school employers, the union sends a weekly list of issues in the schools which are potentially hazardous in regards to coronavirus prevention.

Basically, the union uses the many eyes of union members to make sure the schools are doing as much as possible to keep teachers, staff, and students, safe.

ECC commented that they were, "not only happy that the union initiated this system, but thankful for the union's full cooperation."

Keep reading and see if you can spot the difference between ECC and NOVA's response to our offer of help...

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Help us make GABA a better workplace for all by signing the petition

You too can back the union demands by signing our petition at www.bit.ly/gabapetition.

The recent coronavirus outbreak has highlighted serious inadequacies such as a lack of physical and financial security for Gaba instructors. The company has faced various disasters such as the March 11th 2011 triple disaster, Typhoon Hagibis #19 in 2019, and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.

While Gaba continually makes changes to the contract to suit the operational concerns of the company, such as the introduction of the recent online lessons, Gaba does not likewise amend the contract to respond to important issues for instructors.

When it responds to these, it does so on an ad hoc basis in the form of temporary changes such as with a “Letter of Understanding” which also does not fully take into consideration the voices of instructors. These are also done unilaterally.

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Yamahara Katsuji - Memorial - 27 September

Please join us via zoom on Sunday, 27 September at 1930 for a celebration of his life. You can RSVP your attendance at www.bit.ly/Yamahara.

---Obituary 24 July 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). (see www.bit.ly/YamaharaObituary to keep reading).

 

Is GETTING PAID ON TIME Too Much To Ask For At NPO GLAD? (OP-ED)

This is what I (a member of the General Union) asked myself when I worked there.

For the past couple of years, the union has been dealing with one primary issue at this ALT dispatch company: the delayed payment of wages.

For me it started like this. Just before my salary was due, I received an email from the company director claiming that they had some vague banking problems that were causing delays.

Have you ever heard of something like this before? To me it sounded like something else...

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Labor Update Bulletin #94 (08/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

Read more...

New 2020 System Leads To Wage Cuts For ALTs

alt cuts money august 2020The General Union has been dealing with consultations and grievances from union and non-union members at many different boards of education regarding pay cuts since the new “KAIKEI NENDO NINYO SHOKUIN” system went into place for direct-hire ALTs.

As part of the new system, bonuses are allowed (but not mandated), so many boards of education have started to pay bonuses in June and December. Great!

Unfortunately, even with bonuses, many people have seen their salaries stay the same as they were before the “KAIKEI NENDO NINYO SHOKUIN” system took effect, and some have even seen their salary reduced...

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GABA: COVID-19 Case At Ikebukuro Learning Studio

On Monday August 10th, GABA closed its Ikebukuro Learning Studio (LS) after an instructor contracted COVID-19.

The LS was closed on the evening of August 10th, the whole day of August 11th, and then extended to August 12th.

On August 13th, the LS opened for lessons again.

GABA’s transparency in this case has improved from the Omotesando LS case, where only Omotesando instructors were told about an ill client at their LS, without details, and the Jiyugaoka LS case, where a client with COVID-19 was hospitalized and passed away shortly after taking GABA lessons.

In that case, GABA never officially informed instructors or staff, nor did it publish anything on its website.

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3 Student Lessons - Brought To You By The NOVA Branch Strikers

union winAfter a 100 lesson strike on August 1st, and a 150+ lesson strike on August 8th, NOVA has finally made some worthwhile concessions to the union members.

The union has received notice that lessons for adults will be reduced to a maximum of three adult students from August 16th, and kids classes will be reduced to 5 children from October 1st.

This will go a long way, along with other measures, to reduce the risk of the virus.

The union will also be submitting new demands to improve social distancing for union members.

Not only that, but this was achieved with only 35 people going on strike!

In addition, two of the members who were striking had previously been given a notice of contract non-renewals, and had the very same notices withdrawn DURING the strikes.

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Demands Sent To 75 Universities And Colleges To Stop Face-to-Face Lessons

stop face to faceAfter a meeting attended by union members working in universities and professional training colleges (senmon gakko), due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the General Union has submitted demands to 75 universities.

You can find the responses as they come in by clicking here.

Union members view the possibility of a return to face-to face-lessons amidst an explosive new growth in coronavirus infections with both anxiety and alarm.

While we understand that many universities are being pressured by MEXT and even parents to reopen campuses as soon as possible, if university campuses resume face-to-face lessons thousands of employees and students will be put at risk.

There is now considerable evidence that university age students, although less likely to develop serious symptoms, can be a major vector in the spread of the virus to those working in universities, to their classmates, and to their families.

Our members and our union believe that the resumption of on-campus classes at the present time would be a disastrous move from the standpoint of public health.

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Labor Update Bulletin #93 (08/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

Read more...

Labor Update Bulletin #92 (07/2020)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information on law changes, government discussions, court decisions, and other labor issues in Japan.

We hope that some of this information will also be of interest to activists, supporters of the General Union, and those who want to know more about labor issues in general in Japan.

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August 1st, 2020: NOVA Members Strike 100 Classes! What's Next?

Asked how she felt about being part of the largest strike to hit NOVA, tone union member answered, "I'm not proud of having to do this to NOVA. We're desperate. But I am not ashamed of standing up for other teachers', staff's, and students' safety."

As COVID-19 restarts its surge across Japan, and July 31st brought another record-breaking day of infections, NOVA union members went on strike across Japan, registering 100 struck classes.

After five rounds of collective bargaining - with most emphasis being placed on safety during the pandemic - no substantial agreement could be reached.

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Additional information