NOVA: Safety Survey, Public Meeting, & STRIKE

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Members vote overwhelmingly to strike - press picks up story
 
Nova Members of the General Union have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action against NOVA if demands for work at home and other issues are not resolved after our next collective bargaining session.

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Strike NOVA!

Emergency Meeting for NOVA members and other instructors/staff

Friday, 24 April at 10:00 and 22:00 (RSVP HERE)

Collective bargaining on Wednesday yielded very little. Usually collective bargaining does not deliver much the first time, but since we are racing the clock, we do not have time to spend weeks talking and must prepare for some activity on our part that will move the company to reason. So, we believe it is time to take a strike vote. This is rather fast, but the situation is urgent. At the meetings on Friday, we will discuss the situation and what a strike means in Japan and then ballot members to decide.

Some information about strikes:

  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do with the independent contractors who take time off.
  • They cannot fine you for striking, like they do if you apply later than a month for paid leave.
  • Strikes are probably the most protected of trade union activities in Japan and you cannot legally be punished for taking part.

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We Demand NOVA Shutdown And Pay Workers To Work At Home. Please Email And Share!

#shutdownNOVA #NOVApay100 

You can help the General Union and those working at NOVA by immediately sending an email to NOVA Holdings and NOVA, asking them to meet the union's demands:

CAMPAIGN HAS NOW ENDED

Union Demands to NOVA Holdings and NOVA:

  • Close NOVA branches and pay 100% to work from home.

  • If there is insufficient work, use the employment adjustment fund subsidies to cover wages for those not working.

  • No fines for contractors choosing to not work and return all fines paid to date to current contractors.

  • Immediately stop the subcontracting system and make these workers employees so if there is not enough work NOVA can use the employment adjust fund. If not possible, NOVA should pay 100 percent of the guarantee if there is no work.

  • Immediately stop all cross-prefecture travel for employees and contractors.

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NOVA, "Freelancers", and the Coronavirus

no vaThe epidemic is throwing into sharp relief some of tricks used by companies; for what is merely anti-social and exploitative in normal times is potentially deadly in an epidemic.

Employers have long used spurious "freelance" contracts in an attempt to evade labour laws and obligations to enroll people in the pension and health insurance.

One of those companies is NOVA.

As we have reported previously, NOVA are presently telling teachers to work or stay at home without pay, even though language conversation classes are hardly an essential service.

The General Union has argued that these “contractors” are in reality workers - and the Nagoya District Court agrees with us.

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General Union Puts NOVA On Notice

Will the Neyagawa City Board of Education be hit by the first ever strike of dispatch ALTs in western Japan?

Could you live on 93,000 a month? Well, by some magical formula and/or equation that is known to only NOVA, ALTs hibernate in August.

ALTs (they apparently believe) also eat less than usual in December, January, and March, but a bit more than they do August, as they're only in a state of semi-hibernation during these months.

We all know NOVA's rationale, and some at this point might even believe it's fair to pay less because the teachers are working less during these months.

However, are these ALTs really "part-timers"?

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Union Wins At Nagoya District Court: Nova's "Independent Contractors" Actually Employees

● Union members on individual contractor agreements ruled to be employees

● Court orders payment of damages to loss of paid holidays under the Labour Standards Law.

● Court also orders damages for failure to enrol in health and pension insurance.

● Nagoya court rules that 40 lesson contract employees are actually eligible for enrolment in health and pension insurance.

A judgement in a case filed against NOVA by six general union members in 2016 was handed down on September 24th (2019).

Nova employed the six members as independent contractors to work as teachers right alongside employees who were also teachers. Nova has gradually tried to increase the number of contractors working as teachers in order to weaken employment rights.

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Is The "New" NOVA Regressing?

nova go downCould it be that - about 25 years after NOVA teachers joined the General Union and fixed NOVA's paid holiday problem - the "new" NOVA is regressing to an evolutionary form that preceeds even the "old" one?

We received a call the other day from a NOVA instructor asking how much notice they have to give in order to use a paid holiday.

While there isn't always a black and white answer, the basic principle when it comes to these kinds of things is that paid holidays belong to the employee as an indisputable legal right. 

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Working At NOVA? We'll Tell You What NOVA Won't About Unlimited Term Contracts

top secret novaAs you might know, as of April 1st, 2018, those employed at the same employer for over five years (as of any contract signed on or after April 1st, 2013), can apply to have their limited-term contract converted into an unlimited-term contract.

This means that once you apply, the employer must accept it - and when you sign the NEXT contract, there is no longer an end date (e.g. you change from a one-year contract to an unlimited-year contract).

You can read more about the limited- to unlimited-term contract conversion process in our extensive Q&A on the topic: The Labor Contract Law Amendment Q&A 

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Latest Nova Court Update - February 20

Here is the latest update on our court case against Nova and their illegal "independent contractor" system. Read more about the case lodged in 2016.

Tuesday, February 20, was a full day of testimony with Mike testifying on the union's side and a foreign manager testifying on behalf of Nova.

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Do The "Six Minute NOVA Hustle"

In case you're wondering, this "hustle" isn't a kind of dance routine cooked up as a crazy PR stunt. No, it's very much the other kind of hustle. The bad kind.

Be that as it may, you probably know all of the moves already.

The NOVA hustle goes like this:

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Is NOVA a "Black Company"?

Many of you may have seen the government's recent list of some of the worst "black companies" in Japan - a list in which it names and shames some of the most egregious of unrepentant labor law violators.

The General Union will actually be publishing a critique of this list in the coming weeks (is a list really the best they can do?) but, in the meantime, here is a small article based upon a discussion that was held by some of our members.

The conversation started with this comment: "In the grand scheme of things, NOVA probably isn't that bad. Nobody's committed suicide over their job, have they?"

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Nova Court Case Update - March 23

As you probably know, General Union members are suing Nova over the issue of Independent Contracts. These contracts rob instructors of paid leave, unemployment insurance, health & pension, and even workers accident compensation, amongst other things.

Previously, we had submitted evidence of how Nova controls Independent Contractors despite the company claiming that they do not have any control.

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Union To Labour Standards Office: Stop Wage Theft At NOVA

Companies require you show up to work on time and - during the time you are being paid - give your attention to the job at hand. This is not only an expectation, however - they demand it of you, and will sanction you with pay cuts, fines, warnings, disciplinary actions, and dismissal, if you fail to live up to your end of the agreement.

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Union Launches Group Action Lawsuit Against NOVA

In the past, we've spoken in detail about the numerous ways that some English Conversation schools exploit contracted teachers in order to "have their cake AND eat it".

As we've noted, they accomplish this by asserting that said contracted teachers are not REAL employees, but are ACTUALLY just freelance individuals who are "providing a service" to the company. Suffice to say, we are vehemently against this practice.

However, it's important to note that our stance against issue not just rhetoric. As a matter of fact, we're actually doing something about this situation:

We're taking NOVA to court over it.

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NOVA - "Let Them Eat Noodles!"

Echoing the (misattributed) words of Marie Antoinette, a NOVA manager recently told a group of NOVA teachers that, instead of complaining about the basic living allowance that they were receiving, they should just eat cup noodles.

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Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #2 Paying To Use The Classroom

Nova charges ID Contract teachers 100 yen per lesson to use the same lesson booth a regular teacher uses for free. Why?

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Truths About Nova’s Independent Contracts - #1: The Non-Competition Clause

When you're offered both an independent contract and an employment contract, you might think that the independent one offers you more freedom. After all, doesn't the word "independent" imply that you're a freelance tradesman, free to practice your skills for anyone you like?

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Nova Group Action Suit – Independent Contracts

The union executive recently voted to fund a group action suit against Nova to end “Independent Contracts” and to seek compensation for lost benefits for those teachers either tricked or forced onto one of these contracts.

Since their inception over a year ago, the General Union has believed Nova’s “Independent Contracts” to be illegal. Consultations with lawyers have confirmed our beliefs. Initially we had hoped that we would be able to negotiate with Nova to phase out the system but they are hell bent on sticking with it, denying teachers paid annual leave, workers accident insurance, unemployment insurance, health & pension benefits, and paid maternity and childcare leave.

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What Nova Doesn't Tell New Hires - pension & health insurance

According to the law, all residents of Japan must be enrolled in two things: public health insurance and national pension.

Public health insurance for people who aren't enrolled in the employee system (more on that later) is provided through Kokumin Kenko Hoken (National Health Insurance), which is funded nationally but administered by local governments. Application is done at the local city hall, or ward office in the case of large cities. Premiums are paid monthly, and are around ¥2,000 for the first year, after which they are adjusted according to reported income. For people on an average teacher salary, they rise to around ¥20,000 per month.

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Nova Finally Issues Sexual Harassment Policy

After repeated delays, Nova finally gave a solid reply to our request for a clear, written sexual harassment policy, which we had asked for in August. According to Nova, instructor complaints will be handled immediately by the Head Office, Customer Consulting section in the General Affairs Department. Students deemed in violation will have their contracts terminated, and employees in violation will be dealt with according to internal company guidelines. Said guidelines had only existed in Japanese until recently, but Nova made an English translation which they sent to us and promised to make available to all instructors. We intend to hold Nova to their promises.

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Nova's New Year Memo

Did you see today's memo? Buried at the bottom of the memo, you will notice the most important part – taking time off is NOT compulsory.

If you do not want to, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE leave - paid or unpaid - or organize a shift swap. You have the RIGHT TO WORK, and NOVA recognizes this (now).

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NOVA's New Teacher Evaluations Get An "F"

In September, NOVA launched a system in which teachers are evaluated by instructor managers (IM) and instructor support managers (ISM) under supposedly objective criteria. The system seems like it was hurriedly put together, and appears to be a malicious attempt to institutionalize company bullying by punishing teachers that management doesn't like for personal reasons.

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A New Fight For Shakai Hoken At NOVA

It is no secret that NOVA has, for many years, vehemently avoided enrolling its employees in Shakai  Hoken (Employee’s Health and Pension Insurance) in order to save money by not having to contribute half of the insurance premium costs.

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Executive Committee 2015

Andrew H. (Branch Chair)

I am from California, USA, and have been working as an instructor at Nova since November of 2010. I currently work at various schools between Kobe and Osaka.

I joined the union and declared my membership in the summer of 2014, out of a sense of malaise that the company neither had any sense of direction nor placed any value in the happiness of its employees. I look forward to meeting everyone of you, and showing you how we can achieve great things by working together.

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Nova Manager Apologizes After Official Union Complaint

Recently, drama erupted at NOVA after a student accused a teacher - a member of the General Union - of being involved in a torrid affair with another NOVA staff member. The accusation was baseless, as no relationship of a romantic nature existed between the teacher and the member of staff. However, the way that NOVA handled the situation left much to be desired.

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"NO VAcation on Saturdays", says NOVA "Paid Vacation is a Right", says the General Union

On April 9th, 2015, an employee of NOVA submitted a written request to use one of his paid holidays on May 30th, 2015.

In an attempt to circumvent the labor law, NOVA responded to this reasonable request by flatly ignoring it, and then by finally verbally informing the employee that not only would NOVA not approve the holiday, he should instead organize a "shift swap" with another person.

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Independent Contracts

Are you truly independent? Are you financially better off on an ID contract? The union believes that you aren't. We also believe the contracts to be illegal. To this end we are shortly launching a group action lawsuit against the company. You can be a plaintiff if you are on an independent contract.

 

Truths About ID Contracts
Over the coming weeks we will be running a series of articles that highlight particular issues about the ID contracts. Feel free to contact us if you have particular questions about the contract.

We will be updating this page as new articles are added.

 

 

New Nova Contract Is Fishy

Recent negotiations with NOVA's management (from their Osaka and Nagoya offices) has confirmed what the union has suspected since the new "itaku" contracts (independent contractors) were first introduced: the contracts are very fishy.

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Demands submitted to Nova for Collective Bargaining

Stagnant working conditions at Nova have seen our branch become more active and we have recently submitted demands to the company for collective bargaining in early December. Pass on the news to your colleagues. And also ask them to take our survey at bit.ly/novasurvey

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Nova Continues to Stagnate for Instructors - want to help improve things?

Four years on from the acquisition of GEOS and a long period of restructuring and branding changes, things at Nova have stabilized. Old branches have been renovated, several new branches have opened, and new educational material is being published.

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Union wins job back for fired disabled Nova teacher

Nova recently fired a long term employee, and union member, due to his disability. This was part of a series of actions harassing our member because he is disabled. Needing the job badly, our member had stood by as they cut his work hours 2 years running, along with cutting his shakai hoken (health insurance & pension).

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Nova: Stop firing disabled workers!

EB is a long term employee of Nova. He was there when the bankruptcy happened. For some time now, he has had a neurological condition. It does not affect the quality of his lessons, nor has there been student complaints.

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Ex-Nova language school founder Sahashi's two-year prison term finalized

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the founder and former president of the language school chain Nova Corp. against his conviction for embezzling ¥320 million from employee benefit funds, effectively finalizing his two-year prison term.

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Nova conditions down

Conditions at NOVA continue to spiral downwards. From November, NOVA has started cutting teachers’ base salaries and allowances.

NOVA has once again taken advantage of contract workers by unfairly targeting teachers whose contracts are up for renewal. Members have been contacting the union in dismay.

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Union members win back allowances at NOVA

While embassies were urging their citizens to evacuate from the Kanto region, NOVA was bullying "other language" instructors to transfer to Tokyo or have their allowances cut.

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Nova union member's job protected

A long term Nova employee and union member was recently non-renewed for the second time in six months, and for the second time we have been able to protect his job and force the company to renew his contract.

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General Union forces re-investigation into ex-NOVA president, Sahashi

In 2008, The General Union officially sought indictment NOVA’s former president, Mr Sahashi over non-payment of wages (a violation of the Labor Standards Law). When prosecutors declined to indict, the General Union took the matter to the auditors of the Public Prosecutors Office. They have now ruled the original decision “unjust”.

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Hands Off My Pay

 

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Latest Nova Actions

Keep up to date with the NOVA dispute. Bookmark this page - we will be updating it regularly.

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Are you regular?

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Teachers were clapping

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Happy Holidays

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New Company, New Nova?

A year has passed and G.education has over 400 NOVA schools up and running. How have things changed? For the better? For the worse?

The jury is still out. In some ways teachers say NOVA v.2 is better than before. In other ways teachers say it is worse. But there is a consensus on two issues troubling NOVA teachers; the regularity allowance and the overtime pay rate.

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October 26 in history

  • October 26, 1863 Soccer rules standardized; rugby starts as a separate game
  • October 26, 1881 Gunfight at OK Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona
  • October 26, 1945 Hilary Clinton born
  • October 26, 1972 Henry Kissinger declares "Peace is at hand" in Vietnam
  • October 26, 2007 Nova declares bankruptcy

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NOVA - Latest News

G Education (branded as Nova) is up and running with more and more schools opening. Now is the chance for teachers to take a stand and demand a fair voice in their workplace.

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General Union signs mediated agreement with G.Education & G.Communication

Settlement Agreement

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Advice concerning Unemployment Insurance ('Rishokuhyo' and procedures for payments) for those who ha

All NOVA teaching staff were dismissed as of the last day of November, and were sent a ‘Rishokuhyo’ by the court-appointed receiver. Already, there should be those who are receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits.

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Union Protests Mass Dimissals at G-EducationOPEN MEETING 8 January at 10:00AM at L-Osaka

NOVA OPEN MEETING 8 January 2007 at 10:00AM at L-Osaka

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From General Union to ex Nova instructors and staff

No doubt you have already heard that G-Education has sprung a nasty Christmas present on those teachers (and staff?) who were waiting for formal re-hiring.

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OPEN MEETINGS FOR NOVA TEACHERS AND STAFF 29 OCTOBER/EMERGENCY ADVICE FOR TEACHING STAFF

NOVA applies for Corporate Rehabilitation

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Additional information