Private Language Schools

Disasters at Gaba Corporation

You are a Gaba Kids instructor. You have a shy five year old boy next to you who knows a lot of animal names and can count to 30 and reply to English greetings. You arrived in Japan six months ago and can barely speak any Japanese. An earthquake hits, your first.

The building shakes, the flimsy partition walls sway. You look at the glass above you and wonder - will it break? Someone told you a booth exploded in Omiya LS during the March 11th earthquake.

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As deadline looms, ECC branch delivers message to management

“5% is a fair request.”

“These are my reasons for asking for a 5% pay rise: two sons, one daughter, one wife, one home, rising taxes, falling real-terms salary, 24 years of dedication to ECC.”

“Love your teachers as much as your teachers love your students!”

These are just a few of the messages General Union members wrote for ECC management to read, in a greeting card that was hand-delivered at June 2's collective bargaining session.

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Hiding Sexual Harassment by clients at Gaba

If you have been following our news you know that the union has dealt with sexual harassment of instructors by Gaba students.  Some cases have been quite extreme. Things improved to some degree when, frustrated by the lack of action by Gaba management, members went to The Japan Times.

The paper ran with the issue, publishing two articles on sexual harassment in eikaiwa in June and September last year. This forced Gaba to allow instructors to block inappropriate students from their schedules much more easily. At negotiations, a number of problematic students were discussed. One particular student was discussed in detail.

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Things to remember at Berlitz

We’re still here

Maybe you haven’t heard from us for some time, but remember, we’re still here. Union members are still negotiating with the company over how you will be reimbursed for the five minutes before,  between, and after lessons. 

We beat the company’s unilateral plan to give with one hand and take with the other.

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"NO VAcation on Saturdays", says NOVA "Paid Vacation is a Right", says the General Union

On April 9th, 2015, an employee of NOVA submitted a written request to use one of his paid holidays on May 30th, 2015.

In an attempt to circumvent the labor law, NOVA responded to this reasonable request by flatly ignoring it, and then by finally verbally informing the employee that not only would NOVA not approve the holiday, he should instead organize a "shift swap" with another person.

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It's the Wild, Wild West at Berlitz Tokai

Work rules are specific rules for the workplace that outline conditions such as work hours, salary, and rules employees need to abide by. In Japan, companies with 10 or more regular employees must draw up work rules and submit them to the Labor Standards Inspection Office.

At Berlitz Japan we have work rules and also a Policies and Procedures Manual that is used in conjunction with the Berlitz Work Rules. The Policies and Procedures Manual considers how the Berlitz Work Rules apply on a day to day basis and where there is any conflict, the Berlitz Work Rules take precedence as long as they are in accordance
with Labor Laws.

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June 30: ECC Branch Sets a Deadline over pay demand

At an April 19 branch meeting, members of the ECC branch voted on the following proposal: 

"If our demand for a 5% pay increase for all ECC General Union members is not met, we will go into dispute as of June 30, with a strike date to be determined if the company, with over two months' notice of a possible dispute, does not make a pay raise offer acceptable to members.”

The members who attended the meeting unanimously voted for the proposal, as did the overwhelming majority of the absentee members who voted online in the following week. A notice informing the company of the decision has been sent.

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Send ECC a message they won't forget

ECC members will start their second round of negotiations on 15 April. Despite a rocky first round, we hope for a more positive response from the company during our second round, but we're not resting on hope.

We've narrowed our demands down to three main points

  • Use of half-day paid holidays. Despite this being allowed by law, ECC says it won’t recognize teachers’ rights in this matter. 

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ECC School Director Evaluation Survey

The General Union ECC Branch played a major part in the revisions to the School Director Evaluation Form for the current school year. Our Evaluation Committee had several rounds of negotiations and ECC management agreed to many of our proposals.

Please take a moment to complete our survey so we can take into consideration suggestions from all teachers working at ECC.

Take the ONLINE SURVEY here

We will not be intimidated by GABA!

Gaba negotiations, 2pm at our Osaka office tomorrow. If talks fail we will be taking a vote to launch an unfair labor practice case against the company. Preliminary permission has already been given but we want to make sure all members are on board.

We believe that under both the Constitution and the Trade Union Law, workers have the right to organise a union and that means distributing union materials - even on company premises.

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Will ECC see yet another strike over pay?

Members at ECC, after having ran a successful strike last year over pay cuts and doubling their membership over the past year have submitted new pay demands to the company. Last year's strike of about 50 teachers was in order to fight a company proposal to replace yearly performance based pay increments with lump sum payments and hence freezing their wages, but this year members aren't going to be satisfied just stopping clawbacks - they want more money in their pockets.

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Berlitz: Strike deadline passes as negotiations continue

Background To Recent Events
On 28 October 2014 instructors received a personalized hand delivered letter outlining a set of changes to their contracts as well as notification of a new Full Time Instructor Contract. The Berlitz Branch union contested the arbitrary changes in collective bargaining on a number of points:

The announcement of arbitrary changes was made public without any preconsultation  which we feel violates one of our union and company collective agreements.

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Gaba does care about our safety after all

The Metropolitan Tokyo Ordinance on Measures for Stranded Persons came into force in 2013. It states that companies in the Tokyo area must stock up on water, food and other provisions in case of emergencies and workers are stranded in the city.

The union submitted questions to Gaba asking for details of how they are complying with the law. For months, emails went back and forth between the union and Gaba, with the company being evasive about exact details. Finally though, we have been to nail them down.

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Independent Contracts

Are you truly independent? Are you financially better off on an ID contract? The union believes that you aren't. We also believe the contracts to be illegal. To this end we are shortly launching a group action lawsuit against the company. You can be a plaintiff if you are on an independent contract.

 

Truths About ID Contracts
Over the coming weeks we will be running a series of articles that highlight particular issues about the ID contracts. Feel free to contact us if you have particular questions about the contract.

We will be updating this page as new articles are added.

 

 

On a roll at Berlitz

During the first week of January union members at Berlitz took an almost unanimous strike ballot in order to back our demands.

1. Full pay for all work before, between, and after lessons.

2. Withdrawal of the unilateral company proposal for clawbacks (while trying to pay for time between lessons)

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New Nova Contract Is Fishy

Recent negotiations with NOVA's management (from their Osaka and Nagoya offices) has confirmed what the union has suspected since the new "itaku" contracts (independent contractors) were first introduced: the contracts are very fishy.

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Keep Them Up Nights

No PLs Allowed

A long term Berlitz teacher and union member shares his thoughts on working at Berlitz

As a long term Berlitz instructor, I've seen the company implement many positive changes that benefit management and the students. Unfortunately, these changes have been detrimental to instructor working conditions and every new generation of instructor is expected to give more for less.

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New Berlitz branch officers send out notice for strike vote

Many people have been following our Berlitz story with great interest. The main part of the story is the union's ongoing struggle to make sure that ALL work time, not just teaching time is paid. After many years Berlitz has now made an attempt to cover payment for work between lessons by offering a tiny rate increase while making many clawbacks especially to those on per lesson contracts.

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Send Berlitz a resounding NO to clawbacks! Sign the union petition

Think you're getting a pay rise? Think again!

Berlitz Japan is trying to convince teachers that they will win with the company's new contract offering, but union members don't believe this! Union members are still locked in negotiations with the company to protect and improve working conditions.

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Demands submitted to Nova for Collective Bargaining

Stagnant working conditions at Nova have seen our branch become more active and we have recently submitted demands to the company for collective bargaining in early December. Pass on the news to your colleagues. And also ask them to take our survey at bit.ly/novasurvey

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Aeon subsidiary Amity implicated in teacher's suicide

A labor standards office in Ishikawa Prefecture took an unusual move to determine that the suicide of an English-language instructor was caused by the extra work she was forced to do at home.

The woman had sent e-mails to colleagues and acquaintances lamenting the extra work. She also wept in phone calls to her father about her workload.

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Gaba Instructor Christmas Party 2014

General Union Gaba Branch invites you to Super Jam Part Four - The Gaba Branch's third Christmas Party!

ゼネラルユニオンGABA支部があなたを招待GABA教師のクリスマス パーティー

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In the booth: Blocking sexual harassment

Instructors at Gaba in the past struggled to have clients who harassed them blocked. The GU brought this directly to the company last year, and Gaba changed the rules. No one should be harassed at work. Here it is in graphic form:

 

 

Don't give Berlitz a free ride. Organise!

The General Union has been negotiating for pay before, between, and after lessons since 2007 and for the last seven years Berlitz has consistently told us that teachers DO NOT WORK BETWEEN LESSONS!

 

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Happy Halloween. Do you have your costume ready?

Halloween has exploded in Japan and most language schools make an event of it, requiring teachers and staff to wear costumes to lessons or a school party.

While some people don't mind, the union, and the Labor Standards Law, doesn't believe that employees should be burdened with the cost of a costume. If it is a requirement of your job to wear a costume the school should either provide costumes, or reimburse teachers for the cost of buying one.

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Disaster preparations at Gaba Corporation

Instructors who were at Gaba in 2011 will remember the trains stopping and the streets being clogged with cars. Some will also remember walking huge distances to get home in the middle of the night. The Tokyo government wants to prevent a repeat of this in the event of any future disaster.

On September 29th the union submitted a query to Gaba asking how they were complying with the Tokyo Metropolitan Govermment ordinance from April 2013 stating that companies should keep supplies in their offices in case of people being stranded in a disaster.  

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From the Archives – British Culture Academy

Some things never change. Back in 2006 we ran a story from our sister union in Tokyo about problems at British Culture Academy. Here it is eight years later and they are just as sketchy as ever. The company has made illegal salary deductions for resigning, necessitating teachers lodging a case with the Labor Standards Board. Contact us if you work there. It just goes to show you need to keep a strong union in your work place.

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Sexual Harassment in Eikaiwa

The Japan Times has published another article dealing with incidents of sexual harassment in the English teaching industry. It is very sad that this kind of article is necessary, but it is. Sexual harassment in the workplace should not be accepted, and if it occurs it should be dealt with by employers. Unfortunately this is often not the case, particularly when the person doing the harassment is a client, as has happened at Gaba Corporation.

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