Schools and Colleges

Working at a Private High School? .

2022 could be a dangerous year for you

Seminar & Survey

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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.

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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."

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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).

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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...

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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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Supreme Court Dismisses Takatsuki City’s Appeal

On March 7, 2019, a sealed letter from the Supreme Court arrived at the General Union’s office. When opened, it was found to contain a three-page document with plenty of white space.

It was a notification that the Supreme Court had on March 5, 2019, rejected Takatsuki City’s appeal of the Osaka Superior Court decision of September 7, 2018, stating that the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission had been correct in judging Takatsuki City’s actions (forbidding General Union members, who worked at Takatsuki elementary schools as assistant English teachers, from attending their students’ graduation ceremonies in March of 2015, and slandering the General Union from the podium at a City Council plenary meeting) to be unfair labor practices.

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General Union Sues Sugiyama Jogakuen Educational Corporation At Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission

Sugiyama Jogakuen Educational Corporation, having repeatedly broken the law, was on its last chance to resolve things voluntarily through negotiation.

After that, the Corporation responded to the General Union’s demand for collective bargaining by saying that "the decision of our Board of Trustees is not going to change, so holding collective bargaining is meaningless", sending the Union a notice refusing to even have negotiations at all.

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GU Demands Equal Pay And Direct Employment For Dispatch Teachers From SEICO

SEICO is a dispatching company that almost exclusively dispatches teachers to Kansai Gaidai, with the CEO having very close links to the university.

Unfortunately, we have been informed by non-union members uneasy about developments that management have orchestrated a campaign to "Keep the General Union out of SEICO".

This campaign has arisen because the General Union has a small but growing number of members who are employed by SEICO and dispatched to the university. 

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Osaka Gaigo: What Are They So Desperate To Hide?

Bunsai Gakuen Educational Corporation and Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko Stubbornly Refuse to Show their Financial Statements

In our February 2018 article, we reported on the puzzling behavior of Osaka Gaigo Semmon Gakko in pouring money wastefully into a lawsuit while insisting that they “have no money” ("Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)").

The situation has continued to develop.

When the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission issued an order for relief of unfair labor practices, commanding the school to "apologize to the Union and allow them to examine the financial statements", Osaka Gaigo filed suit in Osaka District Court seeking cancellation of the relief order. 

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Union Sues Marist Brothers International School

sue o clock

On October 9th (2018), the General Union filed an application at the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission suing Marist Brothers International School for their violation of the Trade Union Law.

The union had been trying unsuccessfully for a couple of months to get Marist Brothers to the collective bargaining table over their unfair contract non-renewal of a teacher who returned to work after taking maternity leave.

The union charges that Marist Brothers, not wanting to renew a contract which would have lead to a future unlimited term contract, unfairly ended the employment of the teacher - without any warnings - over what they claim to be the teachers "problems" at work.

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The Pursuit Of Union Representation At Deutsche Schule Kobe

deutsche schule kobeThe General Union has been in negotiations with the Deutsche Schule Kobe for over six months.

Teachers at the school joined the General Union after the school reduced their bonus to zero for the previous academic year after they had received only 50% of the usual bonus for the year before that.

The school have given their financial situation as the reason for not paying a bonus. 

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Takatsuki City to Appeal Yet Again After Osaka High Court Rules On "Takatsuki AET Graduation Incident"

this is fineOn March 19th, 2015, two General Union members who were employed by the Takatsuki City Board of Education to assist with English language activities at city elementary schools were refused permission by the Board of Education to attend their students' graduation ceremonies.

Over the three-and-a-half years since then, the fight over this surprising incident has moved from the Osaka Prefectural Labor Commission to the Osaka District Court, and then once again to the Osaka High Court.

On September 7th, 2018, the Osaka High Court handed down its ruling (PDF): 

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