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.
In this sector alone, our members work at over a hundred-and-fifty different workplaces.
Berlitz Teachers: More Money; Fewer Classes. Brought To You By: The General Union. (Starts September 18th)
In a remarkable display of solidarity and strategy, Berlitz union members have made enormous gains for all instructors at Berlitz - both union and non-union.
The biggest gains:
- A ￥90-per-40-minute-class pay increase for per lesson (PL) teachers. For a new teacher, this is a jump from ￥1920 per class to ￥2010; an almost 5% increase! (For our non-Berlitz friends: a "per lesson teacher" is kind of like an on-call part-timer, and a major pillar of the Berlitz workforce.)
The General Union called for a new strike after the president of the ECC Foreign Language Institute (ECC外語学院; ECC Gaigo Gakuin) withdrew all offers which were being discussed to resolve our impasse at negotiations.
Eighty-one General Union members (nine more than there were during our first strike - proof that the movement is growing), along with more than fifty other union members in Tokyo, struck at ECC for a second day on June 25th, 2016, resulting in the closure of many ECC classes in the Kinki, Chubu, and Kanto areas.
Our demand was simple - a ¥100-per-hour pay rise for all union members.
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.”
We recently received this email from an ALT with Heart Corporation:
"My manager told me that I must sit and eat with students during their lunch period. I don’t mind as it is part of my job responsibilities but the manager said I have to eat the school lunch. Worse than that, when I checked the company manual, it said that I am not allowed to eat any outside food at all, even in the teachers’ room. Is this legal?"
• Article 6.9 - "Aside from approved ALT-brought lunches, it is not acceptable to chew gum or eat outside food in the school at any time, including the teacher’s room."
On March 17th, 2016, at the District Court in Tokyo, an employee of Berlitz won a case against the Japan Pension Service for their decision (in 2008) to allow Berlitz to "kick [the employee] off" the Shakai Hoken system after his working hours dropped below thirty hours a week.
Berlitz had used the infamous "29.5 Hour Rule" as justification for their unethical practice, claiming that as the employee fell below the "30 Hour Threshold" he was no longer eligible for Shakai Hoken enrolment.
However, the "30 Hour Threshold" (and any claims that it is "the law") is nothing more than a myth - and the General Union recently proved this in court once and for all, paving the way for cases like this one to finally be considered seriously.
In 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...
November 13, Sunday – Autumn General Meeting
As our union continues to grow steadily, more and more members are unable to attend our general meetings and exercise their voting rights.
Seeking motivated individuals to take part in a LGBTQIA+ focus group!
This group will spear head a LGBT resource guide as well as consider further actions the General Union can take to address sexual and gender identity inequality in the workplace!
Why do LGBT protections and support matter?