News

Language Teachers in Japan – Don’t Scab for ECC!

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If you have been following recent news about ECC, you are already aware that unionized workers – mostly instructors – are on a strike.

The ongoing labor dispute centers around years of stagnant wages and an unfair make-up workday policy. Union members are determined to strike for as long as necessary for ECC to come back to the negotiating table with something worthwhile.

Support from many professionals in the language teaching industry in Japan, as well as friends, family, and representatives from other Japanese unions assure us that our cause is just, and our morale is high!

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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.

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ECC Teachers Strike Against Stagnant Pay, Overwork

strike 2Today, Saturday April 16th, ECC teachers and other ECC workers are on strike as General Union urges ECC to continue negotiations to settle complaints that its employees have been making for years now.

 

This strike is a long time in the making and its roots go back all the way to 2016, if you would believe it, when ECC introduced its “35 Hour Teaching Staff” contract for foreign employees.

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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.

"GET ON" AEON Outreach Campaign a Growing Success

GETON ThumbnailEarly March 2022, unionized teachers at AEON language schools took a shot in the dark and organized an ambitious, nation-wide mailing campaign to reach out to coworkers across Japan. Since the project’s start, General Union has received a great positive response from teachers that shows that AEON workers are hungry for better working conditions.

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ALC Education Employee Rep・アルクエジュケーション従業員代表

Employees at ALC Education will face a workers representative election on Tuesday, 22 March and GU members are urging all employees to refuse to vote due to a number of unanswered questions.
アルクエデュケーションの従業員は3月22日(火)に従業員代表選挙に臨みますが、ゼネラルユニオン組合員は全従業員に投票を拒否するよう呼びかけています。それはいくつもの疑問が解消されていないからです。

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Berlitz, ECC Workers Demand a Pay Rise in Reaction to Government Plan

The Berlitz and ECC branches of the General Union recently issued their annual demands to their respective employers. Among other things, both branches have demanded percentage-based pay raises for members across the board – and that is no coincidence!

In early December 2021, the ruling coalition of the Japanese government issued an outline of the 2022 tax reforms. This is part of Prime Minister Kishida’s push for a “new capitalism” intended to create a “post-Covid-19 society” premised on equitable distribution of profits and the “virtuous cycle” of corporate growth -> employee growth -> consumer growth -> corporate growth, etc.

Among a slew of new rules, revisions, and incentives, one offers large employers who grant permanent wage hikes of at least 3% to all employees a 15% tax credit on their annual income taxes.

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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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Report: Unions vs Government (2021/12/15)

On December 15, the General Union, with the cooperation of NUGW Headquarters and together with fellow NUGW unions Tokyo Nambu and Fukuoka General Union, as well as Sapporo Chusho Roren Regional Union (Sapporo General Union), engaged in negotiations with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor (MHWL) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

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[PICTURES] Osaka, General Union Joins March Against Police Repression

CaptureSunday, December 12th, representatives of the General Union were proud to participate in an Osaka rally to condemn police repression of labor union activists.

Rentai Union Kan-Nama Branch (All-Japan Construction and Transport Workers’ Solidarity Union, Kansai Regional Ready-Mix Concrete Branch) has been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown by prefectural police in Osaka and Shiga Prefectures. Many of our fellow members have been arrested and re-arrested. Read about it HERE.

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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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ECC, Union reach agreement

ECC members of the General Union began negotiations for the 2021 year in March 2021. Members had already spent one year negotiating regularly over company measures regarding the pandemic and were keen to begin negotiating for real changes to their working conditions.

Top on the agenda for change were the working conditions for a new contract type introduced five years prior. The new contract type had many conditions that were meant to purposely thwart the benefits of the "unlimited term contracts" which began in 2018 after changes to the Labour Contract Law.

The new contract type included longer working hours, purposely replaced pay increases with yearly bonuses, increased yearly working days, and limited the contract to four renewals. The company showing their true intent also forbade pay increases for those on the previous contract type who had applied for unlimited term contracts.

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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.

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Questions for GABA Corporation

questions 2As we enter the winter of 2021-22, the General Union continues to raise issues with Gaba regarding COVID-19, health and safety in the workplace, and transparency.

As of mid-October 2021 the official COVID cases in Japan have dropped, although deaths are still averaging dozens a day. Gaba has improved its protective measures over the last year and a half, which is good to see. It placed signs about correct mask-wearing, corrected clients who didnt wear masks correctly and required everyone in the LS to wear non-woven masks for better protection.

Unfortunately, the fifth wave of summer 2021 saw a large spike in cases, with not all serious cases able to be hospitalized and many deaths, a number of which should have been prevented. There were a number of cases related to Gaba Learning Studios. While the fifth wave has subsided, COVID has not disappeared, and the authorities are preparing for a possible sixth wave.

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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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General Union ECC Branch: Solidarity & Action Online Rally

The ECC Branch of the General Union has called two strikes for 30 October and 6 November and will be holding a Rally for Solidarity and to Call Out ECC on Sunday, 17 October at 10am and 8pm.

ALL General Union members are urged to come for a show of support for their union mates at ECC.

The General Union ECC Branch is the largest branch in the General Union. As such, they have played a pivotal role in shaping the fight for eikaiwa workers’ rights in the language teaching industry in Japan.

A victory for the GU anywhere is a victory for union members everywhere! Showing that we stick together wherever we work, puts all employers on notice!

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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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Shots at Eikaiwa

In early July, Before the vaccine supplies issues occurred, we sent a letter to the six main Eikaiwas AEON, Berlitz, ECC, GABA, Nova and Shane recommending what they should do to safeguard their workers’ health and economic wellbeing during the vaccine process. We recommended getting the vaccine should be considered worktime (either paid or being vaccinated during work time) and paid time off for any side effects. This is similar to what companies such as Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, Yahoo Japan, Soft Bank and Mercari Co already did back in May 

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ECC Teachers Vote to Strike!

The ECC Branch of the General Union – the single largest workplace branch in the General Union – has voted to go on strike after ECC’s management repeatedly rejected workers’ demands centered on employee health, pay, and mandatory “holiday make-up” workdays.

The vote was held after a spirited two-hour, all-member meeting Sunday, August 30th. The broad sentiment of attendees was that ECC failed to show sympathy or even fairness for its employees at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is endangering teachers’ health as well as creating classroom chaos with unclear and unpopular policies.

From the list of demands ranging from long commute allowances to fair treatment of non-limited term contract workers, the leading demand of unionized teachers is the abolition of extra workdays that teachers are required to do to “make up” for national holidays that fall on their normal workdays.

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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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Demanding Safety at GABA

safety firstThe COVID-19 pandemic is continuing with record cases in Japan, especially in the Tokyo area. The General Union believes that protecting workers health and economic position is the top priority.

So, we have submitted demands to GABA that we believe protect the health of clients, instructors and staff. As well as maintaining a livable income for Gaba Instructors.

These demands include protecting workers current rates of payment if they reduce their lessons for the purposes of safety, make the current difficult lesson cancellation system simpler and efficient, make sure air flow is at a premium, ensure covid-19 testing is done above the standards of the public health center and promote transparency for all covid19 cases at a GABA LS.

With GABA workers and the General Union working together we believe can make the workplace safer for all.

A list of the demands can be seen here.

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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Living and not surrendering to this coronavirus crisis caused by irresponsible politics

Special resolution for creating a movement to protect human life 
Osaka Zenrokyo (National Trade Union Council - Osaka) 

From the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 to the opening of this conference during the period when a fifth wave is about to begin, the coronavirus crisis has reached one year. With this continuing long pandemic, it has been a long period that both the labor movement and its various activities have had to be scaled back. However, with the spread of the coronavirus, dismissals and shift reductions, loaning out of employees, and so on, the burden has been shifted onto non-regular workers and women and the number of people suffering daily hardship has increased. For this reason, this was also a year of expectation among labor unions. Amid this, to say nothing of the lack of policy from the LDP-Komeito administration, foolish plans like the GoTo Travel campaign caused an explosion of infections and people were made to suffer even further.

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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.

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Additional information