Schools and Colleges

Osaka Gaigo's Got Money To Burn! (But Not For Union Members)

When you claim you don't have money, the last thing you want to do is involve yourself in frivolous law suits when there are many more expensive problems to settle.

Not Osaka Gaigo, though!

They claim poverty while dealing with two (and maybe more!) lawsuits.

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Kindai - Response To The General Union

Here is Kindai's response to our questions regarding compliance with the new Labor Contract Renewal Act and demands relating to demolition and rebuilding.

The good news is that we have secured lockers and a teacher's lounge to replace those lost in Building 11, and their answer that "part-time teachers do not have a research element to their job" means they can request unlimited term contracts after working five years from April 1st, 2013.

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Osaka Gaigo Court Case Update (September 14, 2017)

Court cases never seem to proceed at the same speed or level of excitement as seen on television shows like Perry Mason, LA Law, or even Judge Judy. This is especially true in Japan.

The first hearing of our case against Osaka Gaigo was way back in March... and yet, we are still only at the phase of exchanging documents and submitting evidence. We are hoping that official testimony will begin before the closing of the year, but who knows?

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"GU Helped Me Win Tenure"

We received a message this week. It's nice to hear kind words but better yet, it was good to hear that our education campaign about the "5 year rule" helped someone to better their work conditions.

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Dear GU - Although I'm not a member (I live in Tokyo) I have been following your posts for a while. This is my sixth year of a one-year contract BUT I'm fortunate as my school has applied for a non-regular teaching license (教育職員特別免許) for me (awarded on Sep 1!) and plan to give me a tenured position from next year. I partially attribute this to your posts, which let me know what questions to ask as well as background knowledge on labor laws. Thanks a million. In the near future, I would like to make a small donation to show my support for what you do. Once things settle down, you could let me know how to do that. Keep up the heroic deeds!

 

Osaka Shoin And "The 5 Year Rule" (Part 1)

Teachers with limited-term (usually one year) contracts make up a large proportion of the teachers at universities, colleges, and high schools across Japan.

In 2013, an amendment to the Labor Contract Act, aimed to give increased security to workers on limited term contracts.

Article 19 of the act states that after renewal of such a contract, further renewals shall not be refused without reasonable grounds.

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Osaka Shoin And "The 5 Year Rule" (Part 2)

Original title: The Osaka Labor Bureau's comments on avoiding conversion to unlimited-term contract

Part 1 here

To better understand this topic, you should know the background of this situation. In short, the union strongly believes (and has evidence) that Osaka Shoin are dismissing (via non-renewing) employees at both the high school and university to avoid granting unlimited term contracts as required by the new “5 year rule”.

Collective Bargaining is ongoing, but the university has yet to retract the dismissals.

As part of our fight to save teachers’ jobs, the General Union has lodged a complaint at the Osaka Labor Bureau, and they have since visited the school to offer “guidance”.

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Board of Education Illegally Denies Childcare Leave

Recently, the General Union received an e-mail from a worried JET at a Kanto area Board of Education. Married, the teacher is expecting her first child later in the year.

When she approached the Board of Education to ask about maternity and childcare leave, she was happy to learn that she could take maternity leave and that the Board of Education would help with documentation so that she could receive maternity leave allowance through shakai hoken (Employee Health and Pension Insurance; EHPI).

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Members Speak Up; Kansai Gaidai Backs Down

On March 2, 2017, members of the shohei faculty at Kansai Gaidai were contacted by their director and told that they would have to teach extra classes. This came as no surprise as Gaidai usually has a shortage of teachers.

Although history has shown that they can expect to lose 1-3 faculty members on short notice each semester, Gaidai does nothing to prepare for this. Each semester, the faculty holds its collective breath, hoping they will not be among those saddled with extra classes.

However, thanks to the General Union, this semester was different.

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Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before - Takatsuki BoE Update

So, a judge, the General Union, and the Takatsuki Board of Education walk into a court room (stop me if you think you've heard this one before). The judge turns to the Board of Education and says...

Well, actually, perhaps we need a bit of background information first.

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Are Public Schools Actually "Black Companies" In Disguise?

For all of the nobility of working as a teacher in public (or otherwise) schools, the reality of the situation is often entirely at odds with the otherwise romantic image that society paints of such an essential academic workforce. On April 28th, 2017, this couldn't have been made any clearer.

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Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)

Doshisha Retreats On Non-Renewal Threats (5 Year Issue)In the week beginning 6th of February 2017, part-time teachers (including General Union members) at Doshisha Iwakura Junior High School were summoned to individual meetings and informed that their contracts would not be renewed after next April (2018).

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Hokkaido International School Unionizes

Last year we were approached by teachers at Hokkaido International School looking to unionize. Given that the company is located in Sapporo, and we could not legally enforce collective bargaining in Osaka, we decided it was best to find a local union.

Sapporo General Union (unrelated to General Union) does not actively seek foreign members but when we approached them they decided to take up HIS. It helped that there were potential members fluent in Japanese.

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GU Member sues Osaka Gaigo for pension damages - March 13

The first hearing in our member's case against Osaka Gaigo is set for March 13. Members and non-members alike are invited to attend. Our lawyers will also explain, in English and Japanese, the merits of the case, legal precedents, and how Osaka Gaigo broke the law.

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Does The Punishment Fit The Behaviour?

As a union, we believe that certain employee behaviour can, at times, warrant justifiable discipline (and even dismissal) under a fair set of working rules. Even so, this case raises some moral questions.

Many of you will have heard of the Kwansaei Gakuin lecturer who made a comment about seeing if a student from Fukushima Prefecture would "glow in the dark" (allegedly after turning off the lights in the classroom, according to some media). Fukushima, as you probably well know, is still experiencing the effects of a nuclear meltdown and the negative stigma that media saturation / sensationalism has caused.

The so-called "joke" was certainly offensive and inconsiderate, especially considering the bullying that has occurred to students relocated from Fukushima to other areas of Japan - but was the punishment appropriate?

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The Precarious Position of the Part-time University Instructor [OP-ED]

For more than 26 years, I have called Japan home in which most of that time I have worked as a part-time university English instructor at various institutions, settling at three Kansai area schools for the past ten years or so.

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Doshisha: Final Warning Sent Over "Dues Checkoff" Demand

General Union members at Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School have been attempting to get their employer agree to a union "dues checkoff" system. This would allow union members to have their dues withdrawn directly from their monthly salaries.

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Ashiya Gakuen - A Tale Of Dubious Behaviour, Mystery, And Intrigue

Ashiya Gakuen is composed of Ashiya University, Junior College, High School, Junior High School, and an attached Kindergarten. The university head-hunted Mr Oyagi, ex-rugby player and TV personality, to be Board Chairperson.

Soon, fraudulent accounting, the mixing of public and private matters, and improper use of assets began. Some people, including a head teacher at the High School blew the whistle alerting people. But Oyagi escalated the oppression of workers such as threatening and forcing some people to resign.

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Osaka CNETs Win Right To Use Health Insurance For Sick Days

The General Union branch organising Osaka City Native English Teachers (CNETS) has won a small victory in forcing the Osaka City Board of Education to accept the right of teachers who have health problems to claim "shobyo teate" (Accident and Sickness Compensation; the equivalent of sick pay) on their health insurance.

Up until recently, teachers who were off from work sick faced pressure from Board of Education officials to use their annual leave.

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Is Takatsuki City Really Going To SUE Osaka Prefecture?

As we have already reported, the Osaka Prefectural Labor Relations Commission issued a ruling on October 14th, 2016, stating that the Takasuki City Board of Education's decision to ban AETs (who are General Union members) from attending graduation ceremonies was an unfair labor practice.

In reaching their verdict, the Labor Relations Commission also ordered the Mayor of Takatsuki City to hand-deliver a letter to the General Union, admitting that Takatsuki City committed an unfair labor practice, and promising that they will never repeat that kind of petty (and illegal) behavior again.

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Maternity Harassment At One Board Of Education

Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of happiness and joy in a woman's life. It is also a time in which pregnant women have to be especially careful about their health, their finances, their work situation, and their relationships, as they make the journey towards motherhood.

This was the case for one woman who assumed that she had everything under control - until her employer, a Board of Education, informed her they would not allow her to take maternity leave. Instead of supporting her, the Board of Education decided that they would fire her.

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Takatsuki Board of Education Reprimanded For Unfair Labor Practices And Anti-Union Behavior

At the height of the dispute between the former Takatsuki AETs and the Takatsuki Board of Education which had dismissed them for complaining about sub-standard housing conditions (prior to claiming that the AETs were never employees of the Board of Education to begin with), there was a particularly spiteful episode in which the Board of Education decided to turn a labor issue into a personal issue, reacting to the AETs labor actions by prohibiting them from attending their final graduation ceremonies.

At this point, all attempts at professionalism had been replaced with petty revenge, punishing both the teachers and their students by denying them from sharing in one of the most important events of a student's life together.

However, karma has a habit of catching up to everyone, regardless of their position in life...

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Finally – Justice At Rainbow International

For months now, the General Union has been reporting about the situation at Rainbow International regarding cases of unpaid overtime and paid annual leave.

We last reported that the Labor Standards Office (LSO) was trying to close the case despite Rainbow failing to follow the LSO's order to pay compensation. In fact, for the last three months, the LSO officer in question has been calling our office as much as three times per day to get permission to close the case. Each time we responded with a strong refusal.

The problem was how to get the LSO to actually do their job...

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Kun'ei High School Demands 2017

Union members working at Kun'ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year.

We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed...

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Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

Kun’ei High School demands for 2017 submitted

Union members working at Kun’ei Girls High School have submitted demands for the 2017 academic year. We hope to hold collective bargaining in the very near future and work towards winning our demands as we did in 2015 when we won our minimum pay demands and school-provided computers for our members.

We submitted the following:

  • That the employer discuss plans for further campus improvements.
  • That the employer discuss plans for unlimited term contracts starting in 2018 based on the Labour Contract Law.
  • A minimum pay rise of 50,000YEN.

Fingers crossed.

 

From The Archives: Youthful Adventures With Employment Term Limits In The 1990s

As is often the case with all things in life: sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. In this case, back in the 1990s, we landed somewhere in-between.

The Higashi-Osaka Board of Education had one of the earliest direct-hire programs in all of Japan (outside of JET, that is). It was, at the time, a great program; unfortunately, there was a one major problem: a 3-year term limit placed on employment AFTER teachers were employed.

Thus, in our infancy as a union, we set out to smash the term limit completely...

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Rainbow International And Ineffective Bureaucracy

Back in August (2016), we reported that - because of union action - there had been an excellent ruling by the Chuo (Osaka) Labor Standards Office against Rainbow International School over its culture of unpaid overtime. Unfortunately, we may have pressed that "upload to website button" a little too quickly...

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Senri International Campus Set To Close Saturday School?

At the end of March, 2016, teachers who work on the special programs at Kwansei Gakuin’s Senri International Campus ("Saturday School" and the summer vacation "Just for Kids" program) were told that these programs would be closed from the end of March, 2018.

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More Unpaid Overtime At Rainbow International; More Action From The General Union

Dilbert © 2016 - Scott AdamsThe General Union has, in the past, locked horns with Rainbow International School over their culture of unpaid overtime. Indeed, as we wrote in our 2015-2016 union activity report:

"We have dealt with unpaid overtime here in the past and won payment. We are taking up the issue again this year but the person has left Japan and the company may not be so ready to settle. If not, it will be a good opportunity to use the Labor Standards Office and have an official order made.

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Union Victory As Osaka City University Withdraws Outsourcing Proposal

A few weeks ago, you may remember that the General Union intervened after sixteen part-time teachers at Osaka City University (OCU) discovered that, via sneaking a "final contract" clause into their contracts, the university planned on no longer directly hiring teachers, intending instead to outsource the teaching positions to a dispatch company. ("Osaka City University's Threat To Outsource Its Own Teachers Invokes Union Intervention")

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