Schools and Colleges

Kyoto Gaidai Takes Hardline Against Teacher After Cancer Diagnosis

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (Kyodai) has a policy of forcing teachers who have underlying conditions or are sick to either risk their life teaching face to face or to stay home and basically lose their job and means of making a living. Two union members have already ceased working there due to the harsh policy.

(David has recorded this video outlining his experience. He is currently in hospital having major surgery.)

This contrasts with most other universities in the Kansai area which have allowed online teaching options for teacher's with underlying conditions. Kyoto Gaidai has had one of the harshest approaches in the region. Two union members have already had to cease working when faced with this choice. 

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Union-led Progress at Nagoya International School

The General Union is currently in a dispute with Nagoya International School over a member who was non-renewed after filing a sexual harassment complaint and declaring union membership (read more). Since then, the Union has engaged in collective bargaining with the school as well as filing a suit against them at the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission. This pressure has precipitated changes in the workplace.

Prior to the union's involvement, Nagoya International School had had many questionable labour practices in addition to the mishandling of the sexual harassment case, but after negotiations with the Union, workers at Nagoya International School have won the following:

Read more...

FREE, ONLINE FAX to Doshisha

Thank you for supporting our dispute with Doshisha and sending them a fax to urge them to negotiate with the union in good faith to resolve all outstanding matters.

Sending an online fax is easy...

1. Download the document. Fill in your name, city/town/village, prefecture/state/province, country. Save to your computer.

2. Go to https://www.gotfreefax.com/Fax-to-Japan.aspx 
(will open in a new window so you can continue to follow the instructions)

3. Please fill in the following

Ⓐ Sender info - Name: YOUR NAME, Email: YOUR EMAIL

Ⓑ Receiver info - Name: Ms Tomoko Ueki, Fax #: 075-251-3075

Ⓒ Fax Content - click "Chose File" and upload the document you saved in 1.

Ⓓ Go to PREPAID INTERNATIONAL FAX SERVICE near the bottom - 
Account # or Email;This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., PIN: 0741

Ⓔ Click "Send Fax Now".

FINITO

Having trouble? Please view this image for all steps explained.

Still having trouble? Please don't despair. Send an email instead.

Click to Support The Union's Doshisha Dispute

30 August Online Information Picket

The union has received a lot of press attention around our current dispute with Doshisha, but we still need your help in publicising the information and helping us protest to Doshisha.

In a nutshell, the dispute is about (read more about the union at Doshisha)

  • Age-based, discriminatory wage cuts at Doshisha University (cased filed with Kyoto District Court-Labour Tribunal)
  • Unpaid wages due to pay for all work done at Doshisha Girls Junior & Senior High School (case filed with Kyoto Kami Labour Standards Office)
  • Evasion of the unlimited term contract provisions in the Labour Contract Law by limiting employment to ten years.
  • Failure to negotiate with the union and dismissals of union members (case filed with Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission)

You can also help us spread the word about the dispute and urge Doshisha to negotiate fairly with the union to resolve these matters.

1. Send a free online fax (preferred) or email (or both) and urge Doshisha to negotiate with the union.

                

2. Add this story to your Facebook feed or Twitter feed.

               

Need some help writing a message for your Facebook/Twitter?
"I just sent a message to support the General Union's fight against Doshisha's failure to negotiate with the union in good faith to help stop age-based wage discrimination, unpaid wages, evasions of unlimited term contracts, and unfair labour practices. I hope you will do the same. www.bit.ly/GUandDOSHISHA"

3. Change your Facebook/Twitter profile picture to support the online picket for the day

Download Profile ImageDownload Cover Photo.

Thank you to all of you for your help and support!!

 

"D"oshisha Day action dispute

 On August 19th the General Union filed 5 actions against Doshisha after fruitless attempts at negotiations. After trying to the utmost to get Doshisha to negotiate, it was clear that they had no interest in offering any ideas to resolve the myriad problems raised by members.
The Union announced its intention to enter into dispute here: (https://www.generalunion.org/higher-eduction/2374-union-prepares-dispute-against-doshsisha)

First thing in the morning, we went to the Labor Commission to seek relief for 3 cases of dismissal of union members as a result of their membership and refusal of collective bargaining.

Read more...

GU vs Doshisha in the news across Japan

Between 12 and 13 August about 45 websites carried two Kyodo News stories outlining General Union plans to sue Doshisha University "Doshisha University: 30% reduction in salary for 60-year-old foreign associate professor goes to Labour Tribunal", and Doshisha Girls Junior and Senior High School, "Doshisha teachers request corrective guidance from the Labor Standards Inspection Office over 'unpaid wages'"

The articles outline the problems faced by General Union members and the union's plans to bring suit against Doshisha Educational Corporation on 19 August. On the same day the union will also file three separate unfair labour practices suits against the school for unequal treatment of union members and refusal to negotiate with the union.

Read more...

Mandatory Retirement as an "Unreasonable Dismissal”

The ongoing labour dispute at Shitennoji University (IBU)

Like the rest of Japan, the General Union is facing an aging membership and issues of retirement are at the forefront of our work. As a labour union, we do not want a society where everyone is forced to work till death, but we also recognise that many of our members are part time workers with no pensions and cannot simply retire.

Many of our members, especially at universities, are on unlimited term contracts and some universities, in an attempt to undermine this employment security, have established unreasonable retirement conditions despite the status of our members as unlimited term contract workers. While there is nothing in the law that bans the establishment of a retirement age, there is nothing in the law that limits how old you can be when you apply or get an unlimited term contract. This makes it highly unlikely that a retirement age set for only one or two years after conversion to an unlimited term contract can be considered reasonable. This is because these retirement regulations would be undermining the benefits set out in the Labour Contract Law. namely of employment security. 

In the case below, our dealings with the ministry of labour, is leading us to the conclusion that forced retirement, especially in cases where the unlimited term contract was granted for only a few years prior, could be treated as a unreasonable dismissal, not a retirement.

Read more...

Working at a Private High School? .

2022 could be a dangerous year for you

Seminar & Survey

Download poster and send to a friend

The General Union represents many eikaiwas and university teachers, but many don’t know that we have a rather large contingent working at private elementary, and junior and senior high schools.

In 2022 there will be a major change in the national English curriculum guidelines. Simply put, “eikaiwa” or English Expression classes will be eliminated and replaced with a course called Logic Expression.

This could lead to a loss in work for foreign English teachers at private high schools. So far we have heard from members at two schools who have been able to give us rather concrete information.

Read more...

Hands Off! Don't Touch Our Koma! - Updated

Union begins survey of union members in preparation to defend 2022 koma.

Non-members also welcome to take the survey.

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.

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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."

Read more...

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

Read more...

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!

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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?

Read more...

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.

Read more...

Unlimited Term Contracts at Universities

The General Union, NUGW Tokyo Nambu, and Fukuoka General Union ran a seminar on 6 December for university teachers about unlimited term contracts.

Did you know that as of 2018, those having worked continuously for five years at the same university are eligible for an unlimited term contract?

Q: Unlimited term contract (UTC)? What’s that?

It’s an employment contract without an arbitrary end date and is a new right that came along with an amendment to the Labour Contract Law in 2013.

Many of us currently work on one-year contracts which require a renewal year to year, but a UTC requires no renewal. This means that if an employer wants to get rid of you, basically they would have to fire you; not just wait out the year and then refuse to give you another contract.

Does this mean you have a job for life with the exact number of koma on the same exact day and time? No, but it does mean that if all remains the same (student numbers, curriculum, etc) you can keep working and we would argue, should be able to retain your koma (the latter part has still to be tested out in court).

Read more...

University & College Pandemic Response - UPDATED

The General Union sent information requests to 75 universities and senmon gakko across Japan where members and consultees work.

We asked the following:

1. That all universities do not restart face-to-face classes from the second semester.

2. That teachers, especially those with either certified or uncertified underlying mental or physical health conditions or due to a more advanced age, or live with others in the same situation, be allowed to teach online.

3. As hybrid approaches that use both online and face-to-face lessons put a lot of extra burden on teachers, teachers not be required to prepare for hybrid approaches.

4. That your university be transparent in reporting outbreaks of Coronavirus at the institution" and/or "among faculties, students and staff".

Approximately one-third have responded, you can find the information of the universities we wrote to and those that responded by clicking here.

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...

Read more...

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.

Read more...

Hats Off To Osaka Gaigo Members - Two Annual Pay Rises In A Row!

hats offThis is what determination looks like!

Osaka Gaigo members win 1.3% across the board pay raise for 2020.

This on top of a 2% 2019 pay rise!

Want to win improvements at your workplace? Osaka Gaigo members show you what you can achieve with determination.

Back in 2013, despite falling teacher and student numbers, the General Union's Osaka Gaigo Branch decided that it was time to stop the long freeze on their pay.

The reasoning was simple: although student numbers were declining, the school was replacing retiring full-time regular and contract workers with part-timers, thus reducing their costs.

Furthermore, we clearly knew that their Tokyo school was doing very well and was building a new campus.

Read more...

5% Wage Demand at Osaka Gaigo

Union members who were involved in a long labour dispute with their employer from 2013 which culminated in the Supreme Court turning down the school's refusal to follow the Osaka Labour Commission ruling ordering the employer to share financial data with the union, have submitted demands for 5% pay increase as well as access to financial data.

While members secured a 2% increase in 2019, we feel that asking for an additional pay increase after the school's stalling tactics of filing appeal after appeal since 2013, is very reasonable. Members note another increase in student numbers (still to be clearly established as it's only February) which points to the employer's improved financial situation and ability to increase pay.

Read more...

General Union vs Osaka Shoin - Trial begins – Osaka District Court

3 February 2020 13:10 

On 31 March 2018 a General Union member was dismissed by Osaka Shoin High School specifically to stop him from working past a year and gaining the right to apply for an unlimited-term contract. On 25 June 2018, the member, with the aid of the union, filed a case against the dismissal at the Osaka District Court claiming the dismissal to be invalid.

After months of document exchanges in court, the case is set to come to trial on 3 February from 1310 to 1600 and we need you in court to support your fellow member and to show that we will not accept the dismissal of union members and employers who flaunt the law to get out of their obligations. RSVP your attendance.

Both our member (in Japanese with English translation) and a witness from Osaka Shoin will be examined and cross examined on the day of the trial.

Unlimited-term contracts are the law of the land, but that means nothing if employers can just stop these new contracts by firing you before you can even apply. It’s up to us to defend this important new law and let all employers know that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. RSVP your attendance at the Osaka District Court on 3 February (meetup place is Yodoyabashi Station Exit 1 at 12:20 or go directly to Osaka Court Room 809 by at least 13:00).

Learn more about this history of this dispute by clicking here.

Working at a board of education?

We will be holding an open meeting for all directly hired and dispatched teachers working at boards of education on Wednesday, 22 January from 1900 at the union office or via skype. Please RSVP if you plan to attend as seating is limited.

As you know, there are big changes taking place to the system for directly hired teachers starting in 2020 which may lead to jobs being outsourced or even cuts to wages. Dispatched teachers also face ever deteriorating working conditions which are often markedly worse than those working as directly hired teachers.

We don’t think that these two groups of workers should be fighting separately to improve their working conditions, but will have a better chance as dealing as one body especially in terms of how the General Union deals with ALT issues with the central government.

Read more...

Unfair Labor Practices at Kansai Gaidai

kansai gaidai signThe General Union has sued Kansai Gaidai University (KGU) and SEICO at the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission for unfair labor practices stemming from their violations of the Trade Union Law. We are asking for the following:

1. Stop anti-union activities and apologize publicly.

2. Continue the employment of union members.

3. Increase the number of directly employed faculty by giving preference to existing workers on limited term contracts employed by the university and SEICO.

Read more...

Survey of Over 1,700 Boards of Education

Two weeks ago, the General Union (in cooperation with our national union headquarters and sister unions) sent out a report to every board of education (BOE) in the country in regards to Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs).

As of September 13th (2019), we have received over 600 responses -much higher than our usual average in more limited surveys.

The survey follows the types of employment contracts for ALTs, illegal/improper dispatching, and - most importantly - what BOEs plan to do in regards to direct hire ALTs in 2020 when changes to the Local Civil Servants Law come into effect.

Read more...

Stop Harassment at Sophia University - Sign The Petition

Sign the Petition!

Professor Choo, a member of NUGW Tokyo Nambu, is fighting against her dismissal at Sophia University.

Sophia University issued a de facto dismissal notice on July 17, 2019 to Professor Kukhee Choo of the Faculty of Liberal Arts Department.

Professor Kukhee Choo left her university in the United Sates to join Sophia University as an Assistant Professor 5 years ago after being told by the FLA Department that, "As for promotion to Associate Professor, with your record, we strongly feel that you may be able to apply for [tenure] as early as your second year at the FLA".

Read more...

Directly Hired ALT? Ready For The 2020 Punch?

Are you an Assistant Language Teacher who is directly employed by a municipal board of education?

If you are, we'd suggest that you pay attention to this article and even consider consulting with the union.

As you may know, the General Union has had dealings with various boards of education acros Japan - both now and in the past.

Read more...

Takatsuki Mayor's "Written Oath to Prevent Recurrence” Delivered: Final Chapter in “Takatsuki AET Graduation Ceremony Incident"

As previously reported, on March 5 the Supreme Court rejected Takatsuki City’s appeal. The unusual case, in which Takatsuki City sued Osaka Prefecture, thus reached its ultimate conclusion, and the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission’s order for relief from unfair labor practices became final.

After this outcome, on March 22, 2019, a representative of Takatsuki City visited the General Union office and handed a “Written Oath to Prevent Recurrence of Unfair Labor Practices” from Takatsuki mayor Takeshi Hamada, to General Union chair Dennis Tesolat. 

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Additional information