Private Language Schools

GABA - New System Training

In the lead-up to the new system in July, Gaba staff asked instructors to sign a "letter of understanding" about training for the new computer system. It was not clear whether this was mandatory or not.

As the company had previously tried to force instructors to do unpaid training, the General Union asked the company to clarify this. Gaba stated that signing the letter of understanding was not mandatory, nor was doing the training.

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Unions Are Not "Cheap Lawyers For Hire"

In Japan, unions have many unique rights compared to many of the countries where our members come from. One of those rights is the power to demand collective bargaining regardless of the number of members we have at a particular place of work.

That's right: even with just one member, an employer cannot not refuse negotiations with a labour union.

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Why Is Amity Suddenly Recruiting Teachers From The Philippines?

Is Amity finding it difficult to recruit teachers who will simply accept what a manager says as gospel? Do they think that by hiring from the Philippines they will get workers who are too scared to ask for their rights to be respected?

It should go without saying that the General Union welcomes the idea of diversity in regards to the hiring of language teachers in Japan; such exposure to different people and culture can only enrich the experience of students.

However, in this case, we have to wonder about Amity's true motivations...

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Is NOVA a "Black Company"?

Many of you may have seen the government's recent list of some of the worst "black companies" in Japan - a list in which it names and shames some of the most egregious of unrepentant labor law violators.

The General Union will actually be publishing a critique of this list in the coming weeks (is a list really the best they can do?) but, in the meantime, here is a small article based upon a discussion that was held by some of our members.

The conversation started with this comment: "In the grand scheme of things, NOVA probably isn't that bad. Nobody's committed suicide over their job, have they?"

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Something To Hide? Amity Refuses To Provide Copies Of Time-Cards

As a union, we recommend all workers keep accurate records of actual working hours - including copies of time cards if they are required to punch in.

People new to the country may not realize the necessity of doing this - especially at Amity, which operates a system that is reliant upon people working overtime (and this is particularly true in the case of new teachers).

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James [English School] And The Giant [Lack Of Unemployment Insurance]?

The Unemployment Insurance System (koyou hoken; aka shitsugyou hoken) in Japan is fairly clear-cut: if you are unlucky enough to lose your job, you'll receive unemployment support benefits for a period of 90 - 330 days depending on age and length of enrollment.

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Hey! ECC 35-hour Contract Teachers: We Can Make ECC A Better Place To Work!

Our current union campaign is “Let’s PARiTY” and we're working on making sure all one year contract employees, staff and teachers, Japanese and foreign, have equal rights at ECC. 

Joining lets you be involved in spreading fairness at ECC, and making sure that no one is cheated in their work. 

PARiTY also means that we want the same rights to holidays, bonuses, and employment security that other “non-one-year-contract” workers at ECC enjoy.

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Nova Court Case Update - March 23

As you probably know, General Union members are suing Nova over the issue of Independent Contracts. These contracts rob instructors of paid leave, unemployment insurance, health & pension, and even workers accident compensation, amongst other things.

Previously, we had submitted evidence of how Nova controls Independent Contractors despite the company claiming that they do not have any control.

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"Let's PARITY!!" At ECC

"In twenty years of negotiating with employers all around Japan, I have never seen a company that holds their own employees - the economic engine of their own company - in such contempt. Most employers at least have the decency to pay lip service and offer hollow respect."

Dennis Tesolat (General Union Chair)

In January of this year, union members from the General Union and Tokyo Roso working at ECC all across Japan submitted demands to their employer to improve pay and other working conditions.

No company ever starts off with giving in to all union demands - but what we are currently witnessing at ECC is a full assault on the union and its members.

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Union's Planned Improvements At Berlitz For 2017

What do we have planned to keep improving Berlitz?

After our victory last year which saw a 90yen increase for per lesson instructors and a 10% lesson reduction for contract instructors, the union is plowing ahead with more demands for improvements. You can be part of this by joining the union. Our victories affect all employees and we hope that you join to make us even stronger.

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Illegal Contract Clauses (Part VI) - Shane English School (Vnet)

Shane English School - formerly "part of the global Saxoncourt Group", though now owned by the juku operator Eikoh in Japan - describes itself as "a world leader in the provision of high quality English courses and related services". With businesses "in the UK and Europe, East Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa", it "prides itself on its commitment to educational excellence".

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Union To Labour Standards Office: Stop Wage Theft At NOVA

Companies require you show up to work on time and - during the time you are being paid - give your attention to the job at hand. This is not only an expectation, however - they demand it of you, and will sanction you with pay cuts, fines, warnings, disciplinary actions, and dismissal, if you fail to live up to your end of the agreement.

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Berlitz Dispatch Teachers Win Pay Rise!

Berlitz employees, dispatched to a junior and senior high school, joined the General Union last year after working for many years with no increase in their base salaries. They felt that, since regular Berlitz employees get pay increases, they should also be eligible for the same. They demanded that the company not only increase their salaries, but also address the fact that they had gone so long without a base pay increase.

We are happy to announce that we were able to secure a pay increase for all members based on seniority, stipends for extra duties, and a set yearly completion bonus for all.

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Union Launches Group Action Lawsuit Against NOVA

In the past, we've spoken in detail about the numerous ways that some English Conversation schools exploit contracted teachers in order to "have their cake AND eat it".

As we've noted, they accomplish this by asserting that said contracted teachers are not REAL employees, but are ACTUALLY just freelance individuals who are "providing a service" to the company. Suffice to say, we are vehemently against this practice.

However, it's important to note that our stance against issue not just rhetoric. As a matter of fact, we're actually doing something about this situation:

We're taking NOVA to court over it.

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Caveat Subscriptor: Seiha English Academy

It's not often that the General Union issues a "Caveat Subscriptor" warning, but given the recent number of enquiries and complaints that we have seen regarding Seiha English Academy, we decided that it would be in the public interest to advise people to perhaps think twice before deciding to work for this company.

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Berlitz instructors; Don't Complain! Join and Vote for new 2017 demands

We are inviting all current and NEW members to participate in our meeting on 2 October from 8pm and to vote on our next round of demands.

Members, new and current, can partiicpate in person at the union office or via skype. Even if you can't come out, you will be sent a link to vote on our new demands.

Here are the new demands that we are considering.

1. A pay rise for all contract instructors (amount to be discussed at the meeting).

2. Job and pay security for per lesson instructors (how will be discussed at the meeting).

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An unofficial response to ECC

In the midst of our dispute with ECC, upper management sent a letter to all teachers disparaging the union by spreading lies about our campaign to win pay increases. As well as spreading lies, the company has committed another Unfair Labor Practice by doing so. Right now, at the request of ECC, we are in non-binding arbitration over across the board pay increases. If talks fail we will be suing the company over the letter.

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Berlitz Japan: automatic dues checkoff starts

This month we submitted our list of the first union members at Berlitz Japan who will be having their monthly union dues deducted directly from their salaries and submitted to the union by the company once per month. This is called a "dues checkoff system".

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No more duck and cover at Gaba

After requests from the General Union Gaba branch to improve emergency preparations, Gaba finally has an answer other than "duck and cover." From late July, Gaba Corporation is placing emergency supply boxes in all lesson booths in all Learning Studios across the country.

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General Union ECC Branch & Tokyo Roso ECC Foreign English Union: Together and fighting for a 100yen pay raise

This is the seventh story covering our struggle for a pay raise at ECC (see below for a complete list of stories). Feel free to download this as a leafletin PDF and send it on to your friends.

Why 100 YEN?

In a letter which the company will send to all teachers that has been shown to the union, ECC claims that the union is selfish and greedy. Basically they say that we only think about ourselves and not the company.

Well, we’re asking for  a 100 YEN pay raise for two reasons.

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Illegal Contract Clauses Part V - James English School

James English School, established in 1976, is a "successful chain of English schools operating throughout Northern Japan". Spread across the Tohoku region, it "offers a wide range of classes, from Kids (2 years old and up) to Adults (Groups, Private Lessons, and Company Lessons)".

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NOVA - "Let Them Eat Noodles!"

Echoing the (misattributed) words of Marie Antoinette, a NOVA manager recently told a group of NOVA teachers that, instead of complaining about the basic living allowance that they were receiving, they should just eat cup noodles.

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Berlitz Teachers: More Money; Fewer Classes. Brought To You By: The General Union. (Starts September 18th)

In a remarkable display of solidarity and strategy, Berlitz union members have made enormous gains for all instructors at Berlitz - both union and non-union.

The biggest gains:

  • A ¥90-per-40-minute-class pay increase for per lesson (PL) teachers. For a new teacher, this is a jump from ¥1920 per class to ¥2010; an almost 5% increase! (For our non-Berlitz friends: a "per lesson teacher" is kind of like an on-call part-timer, and a major pillar of the Berlitz workforce.)

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Strike Two At ECC

The General Union called for a new strike after the president of the ECC Foreign Language Institute (ECC外語学院; ECC Gaigo Gakuin) withdrew all offers which were being discussed to resolve our impasse at negotiations.

Eighty-one General Union members (nine more than there were during our first strike - proof that the movement is growing), along with more than fifty other union members in Tokyo, struck at ECC for a second day on June 25th, 2016, resulting in the closure of many ECC classes in the Kinki, Chubu, and Kanto areas.

Our demand was simple - a ¥100-per-hour pay rise for all union members.

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Negotiations with ECC Collapse – Second Strike Looms

Union executive officers in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya met to discuss a resumption of strike action at ECC. It was decided that if no clear offer is made, members will take strike action on 25 June and 2 July.

Following our strike at ECC over a 100 yen per hour pay raise (in which, on April 23rd, 124 strikers in three regions picketed company headquarters), we had a strong reason to believe that ECC management was intending to move towards resolving the dispute.

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Progress Made - ECC Strikes Postponed

Negotiations with ECC over an across-the-board pay increase are progressing, so the General Union ECC branch has postponed a planned second strike.

After a successful April 23 strike, the company agreed to double its original offer, and continue negotiating.

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The View From Ecc Branch: "One Of The Most Inspiring Moments Of My Life"

On April 21st, 2016, in the wake of a number of failed negotiations, stalling tactics, and a string of unsubstantial concessions that amounted to little more than lip-service, the ECC Branch of the General Union decided that the time had come to send a clear message to the company by going on strike.

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Caveat Subscriptor: EngoEnglish.com

With the recent rise in “Uber-style” services, and the up-tick in companies attempting to use social media applications in the workplace in an attempt to make themselves seem "trendy", it should come as no surprise that there are people in Japan who see this trend and wonder: "how can I use something like this to make money at the expense of naive but well-meaning foreigners?"

One answer to that question is yet another suspect "student introduction service": EngoEnglish.com

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Time for a pay rise at ECC!

We demand ¥100 per hour special pay increase!

The General Union—ECC branch submitted this demand in January. 

That’s about ¥600 per day which is just over ¥12,000 a month. 

ECC has gone years without making an adjustment to members' basic salary and we think that this is the year that they will need to make sure our salaries don’t keep falling behind.

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Can't get no satisfaction.....at Berlitz

The classic song by the Rolling Stones expresses the recent mood at Berlitz perfectly.

Remember taking the Employee Satisfaction Survey a few months ago? Well, the results send a very clear message!

Overall Job Satisfaction is down to only 34%!!! That’s a full 9% lower than the already low score of 43% from last year (even though we have more employees now). In plain English, and without any distracting numbers, that means the considerable majority of employees (Instructors, Staff, and Managers alike) at Berlitz are not happy with the current situation and operational practices. But most people knew that already.

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