If you were a child of the 1980s, there's a good chance that you grew up with at least a passive awareness of Hasbro's ubiquitous G.I. Joe line of toys, comic books, trading cards, movies, and even a number of video games. There's also a good chance that you might be familiar with the iconic slogan of: "Knowing is half the battle."
When it comes to dealing with labor issues, the catchphrase of "knowing is half the battle" might be more applicable than you think.
Back in December (2016), the General Secretary of the General Union sat down (over Skype) with James Winovich, creator of ALTinsider.com, for a rare podcast interview.
If you're interested in the circumstances behind how our secretariat became involved in union activism, how the General Union operates, or various other tidbits of union information and trivia, be sure to give the podcast (embedded below the fold) a listen!
What do we have planned to keep improving Berlitz?
After our victory last year which saw a 90yen increase for per lesson instructors and a 10% lesson reduction for contract instructors, the union is plowing ahead with more demands for improvements. You can be part of this by joining the union. Our victories affect all employees and we hope that you join to make us even stronger.
Shane English School - formerly "part of the global Saxoncourt Group", though now owned by the juku operator Eikoh in Japan - describes itself as "a world leader in the provision of high quality English courses and related services". With businesses "in the UK and Europe, East Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa", it "prides itself on its commitment to educational excellence".
Shane English School has 211 locations within Japan - 189 of which happen to be within the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. As of January 14th, 2017, it holds a 2.9 (out of 5) rating on www.glassdoor.com (although this also includes reviews from teachers working in China and South Korea).
So, how does the contract hold up against the "commitment to educational excellence" that Shane English School maintains? Will it be a source of pride, or one of shame?
If you've been following this series for a while, you probably know what the answer to that question is going to be.
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 This would allow union members to have their dues withdrawn directly from their monthly salaries.
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.
Of course, if such consequences are applied fairly and within the boundaries of the law, they are perfectly legal.
So why is it that these very same companies think that it's perfectly acceptable to not pay you for the work you do for them?
Over the years, the General Union has played host to a handful of "OP-ED" articles written by members and non-members alike. For example, one of our most recent opinion articles - "The Myth of Low Cost Dispatching" - garnered quite a lot of attention on both Facebook and our website.
You might have heard the term seishain (正社員) but have you heard the word sennin(専任)? And how are they different?
Both words refer to employment status and both indicate that the worker is a permanent employee, most likely entitled to bonuses (not always), and in some cases, in particular at “rich” companies, even a big lump sum of cash upon their retirement. Depending on the length of employment, this can be over 10,000,000 yen.
We'll be giving you a better English update in the coming weeks, but the long awaited change to the number of years needed to qualify for a pension has been passed in parliament.
From August, 2017, the 25 required years (there was an exemption available for some people for the period after 20 years of age, and living outside of Japan) will reduce to 10 years.