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Unbelievable. Uncooperative. Unacceptable. NOVA never stops surprising

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

Our hope for reaching agreement on a number of issues, especially 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.

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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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Labor Update Bulletin #91 (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.

Read more...

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.

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GABA: Union Demands More Transparency Over COVID-19 Concerns

The General Union has learned that a client from Gaba Corporation's Jiyugaoka Learning Studio (LS) passed away from COVID-19.

Gaba Corporation has not communicated this to instructors, regular staff, or anyone else.

According to the WHO guidelines used by Japan's Public Health Centers, people should be traced from two days before the onset of disease.

Regardless of these guidelines, the company should have informed instructors and all staff of what occurred, especially as it was already aware of the Omotesando case.

It is unacceptable to just ignore what happened and not tell anyone.

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Labor Update Bulletin #90 (06/2020)

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 #89 (06/2020)

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 #88 (05/2020)

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...

Gaba Corporation Hides COVID-19 Case From Instructors

gaba covid 19As prefectures across Japan leave the state of emergency, Gaba Corporation is reopening its Learning Studios, and the union hopes for the best.

However, it is concerned about something that has come to light and the company's response to it:

The company avoided telling instructors about a COVID-19 case that occurred at the company.

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Labor Update Bulletin #87 (05/2020)

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 #86 (05/2020)

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 #85 (04/2020)

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...

NOVA: Safety Survey, Public Meeting, & STRIKE

Is your workplace safe during coronavirus? Take the workplace safety survey.
 
Want more information on the union and how you can force NOVA to take coronavirus more seriously? Attend open meeting, Saturday, 2 May at 20:00

Members vote overwhelmingly to strike - press picks up story
 
Nova Members of the General Union have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action against NOVA if demands for work at home and other issues are not resolved after our next collective bargaining session.

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Looking Out For Instructors At Gaba Corporation

In 2020 Japan, like many countries around the world, has been grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Union has been in contact with Gaba Corporation about this since February, before the first Learning Studio shutdown.

We have been following up issues of safety and financial security as the situation has developed.

The health and safety of instructors, clients and staff is the top priority for the General Union.

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Labor Update Bulletin #84 (04/2020)

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...

Strike NOVA!

Emergency Meeting for NOVA members and other instructors/staff

Friday, 24 April at 10:00 and 22:00 (RSVP HERE)

Collective bargaining on Wednesday yielded very little. Usually collective bargaining does not deliver much the first time, but since we are racing the clock, we do not have time to spend weeks talking and must prepare for some activity on our part that will move the company to reason. So, we believe it is time to take a strike vote. This is rather fast, but the situation is urgent. At the meetings on Friday, we will discuss the situation and what a strike means in Japan and then ballot members to decide.

Some information about strikes:

  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do with the independent contractors who take time off.
  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do if you apply later than a month for paid leave.
  • Strikes are probably the most protected of trade union activities in Japan and you cannot legally be punished for taking part.

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We Demand NOVA Shutdown And Pay Workers To Work At Home. Please Email And Share!

#shutdownNOVA #NOVApay100 

You can help the General Union and those working at NOVA by immediately sending an email to NOVA Holdings and NOVA, asking them to meet the union's demands:

CAMPAIGN HAS NOW ENDED

Union Demands to NOVA Holdings and NOVA:

  • Close NOVA branches and pay 100% to work from home.

  • If there is insufficient work, use the employment adjustment fund subsidies to cover wages for those not working.

  • No fines for contractors choosing to not work and return all fines paid to date to current contractors.

  • Immediately stop the subcontracting system and make these workers employees so if there is not enough work NOVA can use the employment adjust fund. If not possible, NOVA should pay 100 percent of the guarantee if there is no work.

  • Immediately stop all cross-prefecture travel for employees and contractors.

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NOVA, "Freelancers", and the Coronavirus

no vaThe epidemic is throwing into sharp relief some of tricks used by companies; for what is merely anti-social and exploitative in normal times is potentially deadly in an epidemic.

Employers have long used spurious "freelance" contracts in an attempt to evade labour laws and obligations to enroll people in the pension and health insurance.

One of those companies is NOVA.

As we have reported previously, NOVA are presently telling teachers to work or stay at home without pay, even though language conversation classes are hardly an essential service.

The General Union has argued that these “contractors” are in reality workers - and the Nagoya District Court agrees with us.

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Coronavirus - Industry Survey

The General Union has been fielding hundreds of consultations from both members and non-members over their current employment situation. Just from the consultations and the negotiations that we are doing, we can see a few very clear trends.

  • The major language schools, except for NOVA, are mainly shut down and teachers are receiving at least 60% of their actual wages.
  • Many part-time dispatch workers to companies and kindergartens, are having work cancelled without any time of wage compensation.
  • ALTs are mostly in their workplaces, some at home, and most report receiving 100% of their wages.
  • Private school and university teachers are mostly working at home (especially part-timers) with reports of mostly full-time private schools teachers still at work, and very few reports of complete non-payment of wages. The vast majority are reporting 100% wage payments.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - April 10th, 2020

Subsidy payments (below) updated on April 9th.

Since the government's Declaration of Emergency Measures, things have really started to get busy for the union.

If you want to ask the General Union a question or are seeking advice, please use the consultation request form at www.generalunion.org/consultation and do not send an email.

For members and non-members alike, please understand that due to the current circumstances we may not be able to get back to you as quickly as usual.

Thank you for your ongoing understanding during these times.

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Additional information