Up to now, teachers employed by the board would only be allowed four contract renewals, but with our new agreement, the contract renewal limits are gone.
Sounds simple? It was and it wasn’t. It wasn’t simple because it took the courage of the teachers involved to stand up and say that they wouldn’t tolerate discriminatory limits on their employment terms any longer. The union members’ thinking was reasonable; why should they lose their jobs once they ‘re getting good at it, due to a unilateral policy which had no logic to it, especially in terms of quality of education. The General Union was preparing for a long fight over this issue, similar to the struggle over contract limits at the Higashi Osaka Board of Education from 1997 to 2000.
The NBofE must also have been aware of our battle in Higashi Osaka and probably weren’t prepared to have a similar problem at their school board. It was simple because the board had only a guideline on this issue, not a formal policy. Teachers were simply told that their employment would terminate after five years.
Once we found out that it wasn’t the board’s formal policy we knew that it could be changed without much of a fight, unless they made it a formal policy, which they never did. NBofE foreign teachers will be informed formally on November 1st, in writing, stating that the policy in force up till now regarding contract renewals has been withdrawn. Teachers were simply told that their employment would terminate after five years. Nishinomiya teachers will now be able to work on improving their working conditions and their workplaces through union activity without having the five year limits hanging over their heads.
The union now needs to use the victory at the NBofE to win the withdrawal of contract limits at other workplaces, especially Kwansei Gakuin University, where we have a strong branch, which is also located in Nishinomiya.
If you are having a similar problem with contract limits, and think that there is no way to deal with the problem, maybe you should think again.