"Unexcused" absences: Cold and Flu season at Gaba

'Twas the night before Christmas, and in every LS,

We could hear the sound of instructors trying to suppress,

Their coughing and sniffling with the greatest of care,

Thinking to themselves that this wasn’t quite fair.

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General Union and Gaba Corporation sign grievance procedure agreement

Under the Trade Union Law, companies in Japan must hold collective bargaining with unions. But they are not legally required to deal with individual problems raised by employees. In other words, if you wanted to legally ensure that you were heard at Gaba you needed to submit collective bargaining requests through the union, decide on a date, then spare a day, have a prior-approved agenda, a translator, and approximately six volunteers to argue your case.

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Gaba Branch Update - October 2013

The Gaba branch is always busy working on various issues to improve the working lives of instructors. Some issues are large, such as overall pay rates and conditions. Others are smaller, and may only deal with a situation being faced by only one instructor. But all of them are important, and instructors who are experiencing any difficulties in their work at Gaba are encouraged to contact the union.

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August 2013 Gaba Negotiations - new issues covered

On Monday August 26, 2013 the Gaba Branch of the GU held negotiations with Gaba Corporation. Topics discussed included three main topics: paid training, a proper grievance procedure for dealing with workplace problems, and also the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

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Gaba Incentive Survey

For lessons from May 2013 onwards Gaba changed the incentive system. Two changes were made: the first was paying an additional 200 yen for morning weekday peak lessons (the F-peak incentive), this was a good increase for morning instructors, and Gaba and the General Union signed a collective agreement over it.

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Gaba pay increase - collective agreement signed

In an historic first, the General Union and Gaba Corporation have signed a collective agreement guaranteeing a pay increase. All instructors will now receive an extra 200 yen per lesson for the first three morning weekday lessons. This is a 13.3% increase for A-belt instructors, which are approximately half of Gaba's instructor workforce.

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So, what has the union ever done for me?

The Gaba branch of the GU was founded in September 2007. It was founded by Gaba instructors, for Gaba instructors. After the branch was founded, and asked for improvements:

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General Union Gaba Branch Hanami

Following on from the Christmas party held in December last year, the branch decided to hold a Hanami party in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. It was the first event of this type that the branch had held, and despite some worrying weather in the days beforehand, the day itself was warm and sunny.

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Gaba Assures Union: "We are Determined To Improve Working Conditions"

On Monday March 5th 2013 the General Union Gaba branch held our first collective bargaining session of the year with Gaba.

Five members and three union representatives attended, and we made it clear that we expected improvements, and ultimately, the company said that they were "determined to improve conditions" for instructors, and that they were considering increasing the TNT bonus and the per lesson pay rate.

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Gaba Union Branch Demands

Our demands are simple: Improve our working conditions

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What you're missing out on

Go to any GABA orientation and they're quick to point out to you the freedom of picking your own working hours and choosing your own holidays. They don't underline the clear fact that even though you can pick your own schedule (as part timers do in any job) they have no obligation to you to provide lessons or pay during that time. In fact your open schedule allows GABA to sell a wide range of lesson availability to students without having to pay for this drawing card.

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What can you do?

The General Union has made real improvements in the working conditions of teachers at other schools, such as ECC and YMCA. While it is true we are all free to look for another job, most likely it will be another job with little security or benefits, and with a similar set of problems. So why not play a part to make Gaba a better place to work for everyone - you, me and the instructors who will come after us?

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How do your conditions compare?

We've heard many complaints from GABA teachers regarding their wages, and let's face it, ¥1500 for 40 minutes' work is not much money in an industry and company that makes money.

Do GABA teachers enjoy the same pay and other fringe benefits? Let's examine.

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More reason to join than ever

The General Union GABA branch was established in 2007. With the recent change of ownership and management at the company, we are looking forward to better things in the future. In April, the union and GABA signed an agreement resolving the various legal cases that have been filed over the last few years. GABA has also agreed to negotiate in good faith to improve working conditions. The first negotiating session was held on May 28th 2012.

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GABA Does About Face: Rehires Branch Chair, Drops Lawsuits

In October 2011, as GABA was taken over by Nichii Gakkan, management decided to do a spot of union-busting and fired Francis Strange, the chair of the GU GABA branch. This was in addition to previously suing the union for 58 million yen for libel, plus suing the Japanese government for recognizing instructors as employees.

We are now happy to report that things are moving in the union’s favor. Firstly, GABA’s claim of libel against the union was found to be baseless, with the case being dismissed on 15 November 2011.

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