Schools and Colleges

Teaching in a University or School? You May Already Know A General Union Member!

When people think of the General Union, many immediately associate it with our work in the language school industry at places like Berlitz, ECC, and Aeon.

Be that as it may, did you know that about half the General Union's membership is made up of teachers working in universities, high schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools? In our union, this is called the "Schools and Colleges" ("SAC") sector, and covers all of those people working in the aforementioned establishments.

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Takatsuki City fails to settle dispute , Case will go to final judgement

With the outcome looking bad for Takatsuki City, the Osaka Labor Relations Commission had proposed to Takatsuki City that they settle our Unfair Labor Practices case by agreeing with the union’s proposal to start talks with Toowoomba City to restart the AET program in line with Japanese employment laws.

Yesterday though, on June 17th, 2016, Takatsuki City told the Commission that they were refusing this proposal and that they are ready to wait for the ruling of Osaka Labor Relations Commission. Ridiculous enough, they also told Osaka Labor Relations Commission, “The friendship activities between two cities are going well EXCEPT the AET Ambassador Exchange Program.”

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Osaka City University's Threat To Outsource Its Own Teachers Invokes Union Intervention

Negotiate To WinIn March of this year (2016), sixteen part-time teachers at the Osaka City University (OCU) - located in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, received new contracts to sign which had, unbeknownst to them, been changed from previous contracts to include a clause stating that THIS contract would be their final employment contract with the university.

Many teachers signed the contract - which was only given to them in Japanese - without realizing that the contract (which was, for all intents and purposes, otherwise identical to previous contracts) had been altered to include the new "final contract" clause.

In addition, the university abstained from verbally informing the teachers of the additional clause, perhaps hoping that they would not notice its inclusion...

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Takatsuki City Wastes ¥1,296,000

In May of 2015, the General Union was able to win retroactive enrollment in unemployment insurance (雇用保険; koyou hoken) for the former direct-hire ALTs (AETs) of Takatsuki city. At that time, the city argued that, despite having an employment contract with those ALTs, the ALTs themselves were not employees, and therefore should not have received unemployment insurance.

Wait, what?

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Takatsuki City Caught Lying (Again)

If you follow General Union news fairly regularly, you'll know that one of our larger cases (in recent history) has involved the Takatsuki Board of Education and the previous AETs who suffered as a result of exposing many of the illegalities that the city was involved in. (See: "Takatsuki City Out Of Control")

As we continue to fight that fight, more and more developments keep revealing themselves to us. Case in point: we just caught more of the Board of Education's lies.

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Victory at Doshisha International Academy – More Successes to Follow?

In a major victory at Doshisha International Academy, the General Union has been able to overturn five-year contract limits for our members.

As of last April (2016), all of our members received contracts that had no limit on renewals. This had been a major demand of our union.

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Union Secures Extra Leave Time For Osaka Gaigo Members


A growing interest amongst Japanese one-year contract teachers at Osaka Gaigo has led the General Union to some interesting negotiations...

While we've had a union branch at Osaka Gaigo for the past fifteen or so years, we had never considered demanding extra leave time like the kind given to the regular employees (both teachers and staff) - but thanks to some extra sleuthing by one Japanese member, the union was able to submit demands to the employer asking for this extra leave time.

We submitted the demand to the employer thinking that we wouldn't be able to win the same rights as the regular employees - but, surprisingly, they agreed!

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Caveat Subscriptor: World Kinder Interational School, Takasaki

While many may be aware of the Latin term of "caveat emptor" (meaning "buyer beware"), there is another term that you might not be aware of that is very apt in the context of reading contracts: Caveat Subscriptor - Signer Beware.

Although Japanese business owners are known to treat worker rights with some degree of contempt, it is often the case that foreign owners are even worse. Be it due to ignorance of labor laws, a lack of understanding of the culture, or just a general feeling that they are above the law due to not being Japanese, many of the worse problems that foreign employees face come from other foreigners.

This is one of those cases: beware of World Kinder International School, Takasaki.

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Takatsuki Opts For Alienation Instead Of Reconciliation

In the weeks and months since the scandal broke, both unions and citizens of Takatsuki alike have urged the mayor of the city to restart the beleaguered AET program.

The enduring fight waged by Takatsuki AET union members has gone so far as to involve the city of Toowoomba in Australia - the city which recruited and sent the AETs to Takatsuki in the first place.

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Through Union Pressure, Waseda University Retracts Five-Year Employment Limit

As the General Union has previous reported ("Ritsumeikan University Changes Part-Time Employment System"), a number of universities have adopted employment "limits" on limited-term, part-time employees in an effort to prevent them from applying for unlimited-term contracts after five years of continuous employment, as directed by the revised  Labour Contract Renewal Law of 2012.

One of the universities that adopted this spurious policy was Waseda University (早稲田大学, Waseda Daigaku), which Wikipedia states is considered to be "one of Japan's most prestigious universities, consistently ranking amongst the top universities in Japanese university rankings. The university has many notable alumni in Japan, with seven Prime Ministers of Japan and many CEOs, including Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of UNIQLO."

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The Conundrum of Confiscating Cellphones at Kansai International Academy

Here in the General Union office, we have a short (but often accurate) adage that states: "Beware of any school that has the word "International" anywhere in its name".

Given what we know of Kansai International Academy (inclusive of Kansai International School and Sakura International School), it would appear that our precept is accurate once more. If nothing else, they certainly seem to have a reputation that would qualify them for such a dubious honour.

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Otemon - Language Education Without Language Teachers

Otemon Gakuin High School is presently trying to non-renew all of its native speaker language teachers, using the excuse of a change in the curriculum.

We believe that this is because they wish to avoid giving these teachers permanent contracts under the revised Labour Contract Law from April 2018.

The General Union will vigorously oppose this attack.

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Honest Mistake? Thieves? Only Time Will Tell...

Recently, the GENERAL UNION was contacted for assistance in a matter involving a Kansai-based "International" Kindergarten and a not inconsiderable amount of unpaid salary owed to one of their former teachers.

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Takatsuki City and the Difference Between Truth and Lies

You may already know that the GENERAL UNION is now in the midst of a fight against the Takatsuki city government and Board of Education (BOE) on the issue of the rights of Assistant English Teachers (AET).

One of the issues is whether AETs are legally "employees" or not.

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On employers, lies and laws – more lessons from Takatsuki BoE

In a law-abiding country, everybody (without exception) should follow the law - even if you do not agree with it. However, the behavior of Takatsuki city officials and its BoE that AETs at Takatsuki have seen and experienced are very different from the actions of a law-abiding government.

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Kansai Gaidai Branch Spreads the News

The GENERAL UNION has had many battles, won many victories, solved many problems, and protected the rights of thousands of members and non-members alike throughout its long history.

A recent organizing leafleting at KANSAI GAIDAI University in Hirakata, Osaka, is further evidence of our resolve to continue to carry the fight onwards.

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Kun'ei teachers win computers and pay rises

First the computers. That's right. Computers. Four shiny new Apple computers for union members, after many years of having to supply their own. Our members couldn't believe their eyes when they were delivered. It's not something you usually see in the union news, but material conditions at work are things that the union can negotiate for and win. Often when members are sitting down to consider demands, especially when pay and other working conditions are not too bad, we often forget the physical environment in which we work. Bigger desks? Better lockers? Computers? Research funds? These are all things that you should consider, even though they are often considered to be 'non-traditional' demands, but they are things which can improve your work performance and your physical comfort at work.

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GENERAL UNION helps Osaka CNET win Workers Accident Insurance

Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, in any place, and they can happen to you. However, if an accident happens to you while you're at work, there is something you can do about it.

A  CNET, directly employed by Osaka City Board of Education, suffered a sudden and unexpected injury while working at school, and had to learn about accidents and the laws about accident compensation the hard way.

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Lessons learned in the fight at Takatsuki Board of Education

On Tax

Although we are now in the midst of the fight against Takatsuki BoE, the union and AETs have learned various concrete lessons in this fight of more than a year. Some of these lessons will be of help foreign and Japanese workers alike. For this purpose, we will share these lessons one by one. This time, about tax.

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Ritsumeikan University changes part-time employment system

ContractRitsumeikan University has decided to make major changes to its part-time employment system. The revised  Labour Contract Renewal law that was passed in 2012 gives, limited term contract workers who have been employed continuously for over five years from April 2013,  the right to an unlimited contract if the worker requests it. 

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Two wins for Ichishin cram school workers

On June 25th, the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission ruled in favor of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Tobu, Ichishin Gakuin Local, finding that Ichishin Gakuin, a major cram school, illegal refused to extend the annual contracts of two union members and refused to allow the union president to teach a class, in an attempt to weaken the union.

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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease & The Case For Paid Sick Leave

The General Union has received news that an outbreak of "Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease" (HFMD) - a highly contagious intestinal virus that children in particular are at risk from - has been reported at a notable  so-called "international school".

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Another win in our fight against Takastuki Board of Education

As we prepare to meet Takatsuki BoE representatives across the table at the Osaka Labor Commission in a few days, we have received notice of one victory.

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English education in disarray at Takatsuki City schools

English education in Takatsuki City elementary schools is in disarray after a series of disastrous choices, stemming from a long history of mismanagement, were made by the city Board of Education.

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Osaka University plans to dismiss 162 long term employees

Osaka University, which was selected by the state for the “super global university project”, is moving ahead with its plan to dismiss 162 non-regular workers.

The targeted 162 workers have been working for more than 10 years under fixed-term contracts in various university positions, such as library and accounting staff positions, which require specialized skills and experience. Among university staff, there is growing concern that a massive dismissal of skilled workers will affect university operations.

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First wins in Takatsuki City AET fight

For those of you following this case we are happy to report two victories. Though just a first step in our fight with Takatsuki Board of Education, it is a good start.

Since beginning to negotiate with the BoE in late 2014, bureaucrats have taken the line that our members are not employees. This is despite their contracts clearly stating it is an employment contract. The Board of Education also arranged regular employee visas for AETs, and deducted taxes from their salaries like regular employees. Amongst the “misinformation” the BoE have been giving is that AETs are "ambassadors" and not workers.

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Kun'ei Girls High Schoool Negotiations

This evening saw the first round of collective bargaining between our branch at Kun'ei Girls High School and representatives of the school's administration. After a short debriefing session, our members sat down for a chat to discuss the school's responses and their general impressions.

 

 

City Councillors Support Takatsuki AETs

 

In a show of solidarity, members of different unions from  across Kansai came out to support our March 11 demonstration over the unfair firing of members at Takatsuki Board of Education. Over 10 sister unions sent representatives. From the General Union we also had supporters from our Kansai Gaidai, Doshisha Kori, ECC, Industrial & Commercial, and Nichibei branches.

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Takatsuki city out of control. Cancels contract with sister city and in breach of AET's employment contracts

Takatsuki City, under their sister-city contract with the city of Toowoomba, has been inviting AETs from Australia for the past twenty years to teach in their public elementary schools. While these teachers sign employment contracts, have taxes withheld and obtain working visas, the city has refused to follow the Labor Standards Law or to enroll them in compulsory public insurance by claiming that they are not employees. They have committed multiple violations of law: AETs are given no annual leave, and are not enrolled in Workers’ Compensation, Employment Insurance or health insurance. Also, the accommodations allotted to them by the City are of inferior quality, though high rents are charged, and to make matters worse AETs were forced to live there.

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Nagoya Gaidai: GU wins improved working conditions for language tutors.

Negotiate to winThe General Union branch at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) has made steady progress over the last year,  in particular by improving working conditions for PUT tutors. These are part-time teachers, working on language programs, who are paid on a per-lesson basis. This means that if teachers are unable to teach classes for any reason, for example sickness or classes cancelled because of typhoons, they have not been paid. Unlike most part-time university teachers, including those at NUFS the nature of the program makes it difficult for them to teach make-up classes and they are not paid for the summer, winter and spring breaks.

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