Schools and Colleges

Help Kick Off our "NEW DEAL for ALTs" campaign

JET, ALT, AET, etc., etc.,
Parents, Students, Taxpayers...

ALL WELCOME to kick off our

NEW DEAL for ALTs campaign!
Monday, 27 June at 19:30 via zoom
sign up at: https://gu.generalunion.org/nda 

Speakers Include: Takatsuki City Councillor – Mr. Takagi, Union officials from across Japan, ALT/JET union members

Presentation Includes: Japan BoE ALT survey results, Campaign goals and objectives, Launch of National ALT Working Conditions Survey.

Let's make sure that ALTs have DECENT WORK and are given the tools to provide QUALITY EDUCATION while keeping public education public and free of private dispatch.

Download our campaign leaflet and
SHARE WITH ALL YOUR ALT FRIENDS ACROSS JAPAN!

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Kyoto Gaidai Leafletting Action: Calling all members!

Monday, 25 April
08:15 meet at KYOTO SAIIN STATION south gate
08:30 to 09:15 Leafletting Action at front gates of university

Kyoto Gaidai University is notorious for its harsh policy during the corona-virus pandemic of forcing teachers with underlying conditions to take an unpaid leave of absence.

Union member David Waddell received the shocking cancer diagnosis just 5 weeks before the end of the Spring semester. He asked to be allowed to finish his classes online in an on-demand format while he received urgent cancer treatment. However, Kyoto Gaidai applied its policy without mercy and got another teacher to take over until the end of the semester leaving David with zero wages during this period.

Read more...

Teachers fight to stay on at Kyoto Sangyo University.

   A dedicated cohort of university English teachers at Kyoto Sangyo university have been contributing to teaching at that school for many years. Their contribution is highly valued by students and their employers. They have settled into life in Kyoto, had families and have  children attending Kyoto schools. In spite of their experience, dedication and commitment,  they are being told by Kyoto Sangyo that they have to go.  Please keep these union members in mind as they seek negotiations to keep their jobs.

 

   The infamous ‘10 year rule’ has been used by a variety of universities in Japan to deny needed job security for teachers at Japanese higher educational institutions. Normally, the Labor Contract Act confers an obligation on employers to offer an unlimited term contract to workers after 5 years of continuous employment. Universities through the dubious use  of ‘Term of Office’ contracts are exploiting a loophole to deny job security to their part-time and full time employees. We think that ‘Term of Office’ contracts may be being abused by employers. Also it makes no sense to get rid of experienced teachers who have settled in and replace them with untested people. Teachers are the key to the success of any educational institution.

 

  If you are a university teacher and have any questions about the ten year rule, are being asked to resign in 2023 and are not sure why, please seek a consultation with the General Union.

International Schools Organising Committee・ゼネラルユニオン・インタナーショナレスクール組織化実行委員会

The GU will soon begin a national survey of International Schools throughout Japan. We have found many problems in this sector, mainly around issues of harassment, but also around basic rights to insurance, paid holidays, contract renewals.
ゼネラルユニオンは近く、日本全国のインターナショナルスクールの調査を始めます。この分野では、主にハラスメント問題をはじめ、社会保険、有給休暇、契約更新などの基本的な権利についても多くの問題が見つかっています。

We want to make a better International Schools environment in Japan for both teachers and students, Japanese and foreign teachers and staff, and international and domestic hires.
私たちは、教師と生徒、日本人と外国人の教師とスタッフ、海外と国内の被用者にとって、日本のインターナショナルスクールの環境をより良くしたいと考えています。

Soon you'll be able to help us get the ball rolling by answering our survey. You tell us more about you and we'll let you know more about us.
もうすぐあなたにアンケートに答えて頂くことで、私たちの活動を後押しして頂けるようになります。私たちにあなたのことをもっと教えてください。私たちはあなたに私たちのことをもっと伝えたいと思います。

GU members standby union member David Waddell

Almost 100 union members will be meeting on 7 February to support fellow GU member David Waddell who is suffering not only from Stage III Esophageal Cancer, but also from the callousness of his employer. We will be making a mass appeal to his employer, Kyoto Gaidai, to do right by David.

Kyoto Gaidai University is notorious for its harsh policy during the corona-virus pandemic of forcing teachers with underlying conditions to take an unpaid leave of absence.

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Osaka University・大阪大学:Unbelievable・信じられへん!

Working at Osaka University (Handai)? Join us in assuring your rights to an unlimited term contract!

大阪大学(阪大)で働いておられますか? あなたの無期雇用契約の権利を守るために一緒に活動しましょう。

  
Click to download and send to a friend・ダウンロードして、仲間に送る

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YOU can support our member at Kyoto Gaidai. Join us!

Let's put our voices together on Monday, 7 February!

We are inviting you to attend our online gathering in support of union member David Waddell who is suffering not only from Stage III Esophagael Cancer, but also from the callousness of his employer. You can learn about the issue and how YOU personally can support David. Please attend any of the short 30 minute sessions at 10:00, 13:00, or 19:30

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GU Sues Ecole Internationale Franco Japonaise - No employer too small or too far for us to deal with!

The union has been trying to engage this Kanto employer in collective bargaining over the dismissal of a union member for many months now. 

They have written to us explaining that AFTER hiring the member, they learned that she was not properly licensed and therefore had no choice but to end her employment. Unfortunately, they came across this information AFTER hiring the member for one year. They tend not to understand that it was their job to be properly informed and it wasn't because our member hid any information in the interview. A contract is a promise!

Their lack of understanding also came out in their basic refusual to hold collective bargaining. We received long "stream of consciousness" emails about their mission, and how the GU was interfering in the realisation of their goals. Too bad that their clever emails didn't have the advice of a lawyer who would have told them about their obligation under article 7 of the Trade Union Law to hold negotiations with the union.

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Union sues International Buddhist/Shitennoji University

On Friday, 17 a General Union member filed a suit at the Osaka District Court regarding their employment at Shitennoji University.

The member has taught at the University for nine years, and even though they were on an unlimited term contract, the University unilaterally terminated the member's employment when they turned 67. The official reason was: retirement is set at 65.

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Spreading the union word at International Schools

On 5 December union and non-union members working at International kindergartens, elementary, and junior and senior high schools met to discuss issues facing workers at their schools. More importantly though, we met to discuss the possible solutions to these problems.

Using a case study for Nagoya International School (NIS) we looked at some of the main problems employees face:

  • General lack of knowledge about labour law in Japan almost as if they were covered by some kind of extraterritoriality agreement like Japan suffered under western colonial powers.
  • Failure to enrol in government mandated employment, health, and pension insurance.
  • Failure to take complaints of harassment seriously and deal with the harassment problem.
  • Presenting themselves as being progressive on gender, race, and labour issues while at the same time failing to deal with these problems in the workplace.

    Read more...

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:

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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 by adding this story to your Facebook feed or Twitter feed.

"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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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.

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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?

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).

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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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Additional information