Private Language Schools

Peppy Dispute Comes To A Close

The first article written about the General Union and Peppy Kids Club ("Working At Peppy Kids Club?") was written on May 17th, 2012. Since that time, much has been done to create better working conditions for everyone involved - much to the dismay of management.

We've borne witness to the formation of the Peppy Kids Club Branch; demanded that the company follow the law and provide working rules as per Article 106 of the Labor Standards Act; pressed the company to provide unemployment insurance; tackled the company's unenforceable confidentiality agreements; and butted heads several times over the company's insistence on making employees pay for their own business-related travel expenses up front and out of their own pocket.

In December of 2012, Peppy Kids Club retaliated by firing the Chair of the Peppy Kids Branch of the General Union. The company attempted to dismiss this action as a non-renewal of contract due to poor performance.

Suffice to say, the General Union took swift action. ("Peppy Kids Club Fires Branch Chair - Union Moves Into Action")

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Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #2 Paying To Use The Classroom

Nova charges ID Contract teachers 100 yen per lesson to use the same lesson booth a regular teacher uses for free. Why?

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Your Rights and Amity Housing - My Story

I work at Amity and I recently cancelled my housing contract with the company, while keeping my job. Fortunately, this paradox did not destroy the fabric of space-time.

When I first asked my Manager about finding a new apartment, she told me that the company-provided accommodations were non-negotiable. I was disappointed, but did my best to make the place habitable. It was much smaller than I was used to. There was no kitchen, just a hallway with a fridge, a sink and one lonely burner. Although I disliked my apartment, I figured there wasn’t anything I could do, since I’d already been told no.

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ECC: Join The Union, And Help Fight For A Pay Rise For Everyone

Download our new "Time for a Pay Rise" leaflet.

We've proven that, when we come together, we can make many changes at ECC.

We've been around as a union, in one form or another, since 1995, and have been leaders in winning benefits for both union and non-union members. If someone tells you that they won't negotiate with a union, tell them that they have, and they do.

What has the union won for you? Paid, flexible ALPs; unemployment insurance; health and pension insurance; pay rises; a Kanto living allowance; and these are just the big things.

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Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #1: The Non-Competition Clause

When you're offered both an independent contract and an employment contract, you might think that the independent one offers you more freedom. After all, doesn't the word "independent" imply that you're a freelance tradesman, free to practice your skills for anyone you like?

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Nova Group Action Suit – Independent Contracts

The union executive recently voted to fund a group action suit against Nova to end “Independent Contracts” and to seek compensation for lost benefits for those teachers either tricked or forced onto one of these contracts.

Since their inception over a year ago, the General Union has believed Nova’s “Independent Contracts” to be illegal. Consultations with lawyers have confirmed our beliefs. Initially we had hoped that we would be able to negotiate with Nova to phase out the system but they are hell bent on sticking with it, denying teachers paid annual leave, workers accident insurance, unemployment insurance, health & pension benefits, and paid maternity and childcare leave.

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What Nova Doesn't Tell New Hires - pension & health insurance

According to the law, all residents of Japan must be enrolled in two things: public health insurance and national pension.

Public health insurance for people who aren't enrolled in the employee system (more on that later) is provided through Kokumin Kenko Hoken (National Health Insurance), which is funded nationally but administered by local governments. Application is done at the local city hall, or ward office in the case of large cities. Premiums are paid monthly, and are around ¥2,000 for the first year, after which they are adjusted according to reported income. For people on an average teacher salary, they rise to around ¥20,000 per month.

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Berlitz – Members’ Solidarity Wins Extra Pay

dfdfIn has been a long road since Berlitz unilaterally set out to solve a problem that the General Union has long complained about.

Like many other companies, Berlitz has never paid teachers for the time they spend working between lessons.

While teachers have been compensated for their teaching time, the company failed to understand that this time is often used for preparing things, such as planning their next lesson, preparing textbooks, writing reports, and discussing issues with other teachers and members of staff.

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For Japan’s English teachers, rays of hope amid the race to the bottom--Japan Times

A very decent article from the Japan Times covering the "eikaiwa" industry published on 7 January 2016 which also covers a lot of work the General Union has done to win improvements.

We must note that there is a small error in the part about Berlitz. The union's recent victory did not include any back pay.

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Nova Finally Issues Sexual Harassment Policy

After repeated delays, Nova finally gave a solid reply to our request for a clear, written sexual harassment policy, which we had asked for in August. According to Nova, instructor complaints will be handled immediately by the Head Office, Customer Consulting section in the General Affairs Department. Students deemed in violation will have their contracts terminated, and employees in violation will be dealt with according to internal company guidelines. Said guidelines had only existed in Japanese until recently, but Nova made an English translation which they sent to us and promised to make available to all instructors. We intend to hold Nova to their promises.

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NSSI unfair dismissal case settled in mediation

It has been over one year since we helped and supported some of our members in their efforts to sue Nippon Steel Sumikin Intercom (NSSI) over their dismissal after 19 years of work, but the General Union is pleased to announce that the case has finally been settled. ("Fired? Here's What Some Union Members Did About It"; "Suing Nippon Steel - Update")

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Nova's New Year Memo

Did you see today's memo? Buried at the bottom of the memo, you will notice the most important part – taking time off is NOT compulsory.

If you do not want to, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE leave - paid or unpaid - or organize a shift swap. You have the RIGHT TO WORK, and NOVA recognizes this (now).

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NOVA's New Teacher Evaluations Get An "F"

In September, NOVA launched a system in which teachers are evaluated by instructor managers (IM) and instructor support managers (ISM) under supposedly objective criteria. The system seems like it was hurriedly put together, and appears to be a malicious attempt to institutionalize company bullying by punishing teachers that management doesn't like for personal reasons.

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GABA & NOVA Independent Contracting - It's Not Just A Japan Thing

"Independent Contracting" at Gaba and Nova is putting the working conditions of all English teachers, both those in the eikaiwa and university sectors, in danger. In private talks , some of the larger language school chains have complained that Gaba effectively saves 30% on labor costs by falsely categorizing instructors as independent contractors and denying them paid annual leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. This strategy has had a ripple effect, with one Kansai university claiming its teachers are independent contractors.

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A New Fight For Shakai Hoken At NOVA

It is no secret that NOVA has, for many years, vehemently avoided enrolling its employees in Shakai  Hoken (Employee’s Health and Pension Insurance) in order to save money by not having to contribute half of the insurance premium costs.

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Gaba Corporation to run emergency drills

After the union repeatedly raising the issue of disaster preparation Gaba Corporation is holding drills at 14 Learning Studios across Japan in the next few months. The drills are paid at the rate of two non-peak lessons.

This number of drills is a big improvement from 2014, when the company did none, and from 2013, when it did seven.

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Executive Committee 2015

Andrew H. (Branch Chair)

I am from California, USA, and have been working as an instructor at Nova since November of 2010. I currently work at various schools between Kobe and Osaka.

I joined the union and declared my membership in the summer of 2014, out of a sense of malaise that the company neither had any sense of direction nor placed any value in the happiness of its employees. I look forward to meeting everyone of you, and showing you how we can achieve great things by working together.

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Fired? Here's What Some Union Members Did About It

In 2013, two employees of Nippon Steel, who had worked for the company for almost two decades, unexpectedly discovered that their contract with the company would not be renewed as part of "internal restructuring" - "restructuring" that, in reality, was just business jargon for "fire veteran employees and save money by hiring people to do the same job for less salary".

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Gaba Hides Client Sexual Harassment, Punishes Instructors

There is a Gaba client who was blocked from taking lessons from several female instructors for harassing them. Despite this, the company has refused to discontinue the client’s contract, has removed the 'special circumstances' note highlighting his behaviour from his file, and has repeatedly deleted comments inputed by an instructor who had been harassed by the client. They have gone so far as to give her a written warning for her actions.

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Nova Manager Apologizes After Official Union Complaint

Recently, drama erupted at NOVA after a student accused a teacher - a member of the General Union - of being involved in a torrid affair with another NOVA staff member. The accusation was baseless, as no relationship of a romantic nature existed between the teacher and the member of staff. However, the way that NOVA handled the situation left much to be desired.

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Absences or lateness due to typhoon weather

The union has been asked about this issue. Over this week there was very heavy rain across Japan making travel in some areas dangerous due to the passing typhoons. The union believes that instructors shouldn't be penalised because of any lateness or absences due to this extreme weather.

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Emergency Drills To Be Held At GABA "More Often"

At GABA, the last evacuations practised at learning studios were conducted two years ago, at only a small number of locations, with few instructors taking part.

While there are posters in Learning Studios advising what to do in the event of a disaster, there has been little real education or preparation to give instructors experience in knowing what to do or how to handle the situation when - not if - an earthquake occurs.

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ECC Mediation Update 2015/08/25

 

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Issues@LCs

Something not right at your LC? Do you think there is something happening that needs to be reported? Is it important enough to let everyone know about it? Here is the place. Just send an email to mcvay(@)generalunion.org (remove brackets). We will contact you and go from there.  

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes... Teacher Turnover at Berlitz

What is a company's most important asset? Is it the cash in its bank account? Nope, not even close! How about the building or location that a company is located in? Sorry, no dice! What about the company's president? Even they are nowhere near as important to a company’' success when compared to its employees.

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Survey Results - Gaba Corporation emergency preparation

Recently the GU branch did a survey about emergency preparations at Gaba to see how instructors felt about the situation. The results were alarming.

0% of instructors received emergency training during initial certification (training) at Gaba.

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Gaba Home Study – Client’s Perspective is NOT mandatory

There has been some discussion about whether the current Mindflash training offered by Gaba is mandatory. While the GU believes that it is good for instructors to do training to help them teach as well as possible, the training is NOT mandatory.

Some instructors have been under the impression that it is, or that their schedule may be blocked if they do not do the training. This is not the case, and if instructors have any problems they are most welcome to contact the union about this.

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The ultimate ECC mediation FAQ: What is mediation, anyways??

1. What happens at mediation?

The union, the company, and members of the Labor Commission will meet, both together and separately to discuss our demand for a 5% pay raise. There are three mediators, a labour-side, company-side, and public commissioner. Often they will move back and forth between the company and the union with different proposals. Sometimes they may even offer their own proposal to both parties.

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We want to talk! We want to teach! We don't want to strike!

It’s been a very busy time at the General Union ECC branch. 

Despite repeated attempts to meet with the ECC management informally, we have been rebuffed at every step.

Our goal is a fair pay increase for all members and members of course will consider any offer made, but ECC has made NO offer to the union.

While we are prepared to go on strike in July, members desperately want to settle this issue with no disruption. So on Wednesday, 24 June union officials went to the Osaka Labour Commission for help. We filed an application for mediation. This means that if ECC agrees we can continue negotiations with the help of the mediators at the labour commission.

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ECC Pay Increases - Does Not Compute

Additional information