Gaba negotiations, 2pm at our Osaka office tomorrow. If talks fail we will be taking a vote to launch an unfair labor practice case against the company. Preliminary permission has already been given but we want to make sure all members are on board.
We believe that under both the Constitution and the Trade Union Law, workers have the right to organise a union and that means distributing union materials - even on company premises.
Members at ECC, after having ran a successful strike last year over pay cuts and doubling their membership over the past year have submitted new pay demands to the company. Last year's strike of about 50 teachers was in order to fight a company proposal to replace yearly performance based pay increments with lump sum payments and hence freezing their wages, but this year members aren't going to be satisfied just stopping clawbacks - they want more money in their pockets.
Background To Recent Events
On 28 October 2014 instructors received a personalized hand delivered letter outlining a set of changes to their contracts as well as notification of a new Full Time Instructor Contract. The Berlitz Branch union contested the arbitrary changes in collective bargaining on a number of points:
The announcement of arbitrary changes was made public without any preconsultation which we feel violates one of our union and company collective agreements.
The Metropolitan Tokyo Ordinance on Measures for Stranded Persons came into force in 2013. It states that companies in the Tokyo area must stock up on water, food and other provisions in case of emergencies and workers are stranded in the city.
The union submitted questions to Gaba asking for details of how they are complying with the law. For months, emails went back and forth between the union and Gaba, with the company being evasive about exact details. Finally though, we have been to nail them down.
During the first week of January union members at Berlitz took an almost unanimous strike ballot in order to back our demands.
1. Full pay for all work before, between, and after lessons.
2. Withdrawal of the unilateral company proposal for clawbacks (while trying to pay for time between lessons)
Check-off (Industrial Relations & HR Terms) - a procedure whereby an employer deducts union contributions directly from an employee's pay and pays the money to the union.
Check off is common practice in many of our home countries, it is also quite common in company controlled unions in Japan. For smaller unions, such as the General Union, it is very rare.
The 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.