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Eikaiwas and the Pandemic: Much Talk, Little Action – But we demand more!

The corona virus is something we are all sick of but with the third state of emergency in progress. We asked the six major eikaiwas in Japan what they are doing to prevent infection as well as requesting them to take measures that protect our members livelihoods in their time of need (aside from what the union had already forced many of them to do).

The six main eikaiwas we approached were: AEON, Berlitz, ECC, GABA, Nova and Shane.

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Maternity and Child Care Leave Online Seminar

Are you planning to have a family or already have a child on the way? Then this seminar is for you.

The General Union will be holding a zoom seminar on Sunday, 27 June at 7:30pm discussing all things related to maternity and child care leave in Japan.

Topics include:

  • Leave rights
  • How to register your pregnancy
  • Lump sum childbirth payment
  • Maternity leave eligibility and benefits
  • Childcare leave eligibility and benefits
  • What happens if the birth is early or delayed
  • How to register the birth of your child with the Japanese Government
  • And more..

If you would like to attend RSVP your attendance here.

Download flyer for friends and colleagues.

Labor Update Bulletin #113 (05/2021)

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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Fukuoka City ALTs and the Mysterious Case of the Missing Millions and Thousands of Classes

Via the Fukuoka General Union, here's a short video on the situation of ALTs in Fukuoka.

We imagine that the information in the video covers a lot more ALTs than just those in Fukuoka. 

Do you see your own situation in this video? Let us know - especially if you want to do something about it.

We Demand Safety First at GABA

The General Union has been raising safety issues with Gaba Corporation for many years, and this is a concern more than ever since the start of last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

This pandemic is not over and is getting worse in Japan. In all of 2020, Japan's official death toll was 3,459. It is only May 2021 and there have been over 8000 (official) deaths this year in Japan.

It is impossible to social distance inside a Gaba booth, where clients and instructors are speaking in a place with poor ventilation, usually about 90cm from each other. Wearing masks is not enough especially as masks do not block all viral particles. Wearing only a plastic face shield in online lessons creates risks for others in the Learning Studio.

As General Union members at GABA our job is to reduce COVID risk and therefore reduce the risk of death or serious illness. We want to keep ALL GABA employees and clients as safe as possible.

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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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Labor Update Bulletin #112 (05/2021)

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.

Read more...

Labor Update Bulletin #111 (04/2021)

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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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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Twice Aichi Pref Uni Has Backed Down Against the GU

Now it’s Time to Overturn the 20% Pay Cut & Win a Big Pay Rise for Japanese non-regular workers

(click the image to download a PDF for your friends)

Both Japanese and foreign non-regular workers at Aichi Prefectural University have something big in common: Twenty percent (or one-fifth) of your per-koma pay is what binds you together.

APU hopes that that they can use nationality to divide you and keep wages low, our union wants to get you together to improve your working life!

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Labor Update Bulletin #110 (04/2021)

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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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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Labor Update Bulletin #109 (03/2021)

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.

Read more...

Labor Update Bulletin #108 (03/2021)

labor bulletin 2018This bulletin contains information about 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 #107 (02/2021)

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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GU Launches Gender Parity Committee to Welcome International Women's Day

gu gender equalityAccording to data gathered from General Union members who filled out the gender section of the application form when they first joined, 22.5% of our members are women.

We know that women are also subject to unfair labor practices (poor working conditions, unfair layoff practices, sexism, and harassment, to name a few) just as much as men are - and sometimes even more.

So why aren't more women joining unions?

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Labor Update Bulletin #106 (02/2021)

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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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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"Kan'nama", the Union Movement, and Us

gu fistThe General Union adopted a special resolution at the Annual General Meeting in May 2019 in support of the All Japan Construction and Transport Solidarity Union, Kansai Ready-Mix Concrete Branch (commonly known as Kan'nama).

We oppose the unprecedented attacks on that union, and have participated in various activities in support of them.

We also held a seminar, inviting the leaders of Kan'nama to come and speak. They gave us a report on their union's history and current situation, and took questions. The seminar was written up in an article that is posted on this union7s website (http://bit.ly/kan-nama-JP in Japanese; http://bit.ly/kan-nama-EN in English).

As we enter this new year 2021, taking stock once more of our thoughts in regard to Kan'nama may well be a meaningful help to thinking about the future of our movement.

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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.

Read more...

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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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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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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Additional information