On May 21, 2007, the General Union signed four new collective agreements with the British Council to cover full time and part time teachers.
1. An agreement in regards to unemployment insurance and workers’ accident compensation. All full and part time teachers are now enrolled on these two mandatory insurances, and the BC has agreed to cover any losses that may be incurred in the future due to their failure to enrol in the past.
2. A pre-consultation agreement (Jizenkyogisei) which requires the BC to consult with the union prior to making changes to any member’s working conditions. This will save teachers from sudden changes to working conditions and allow members time to build workplace opposition to any diadvantageous changes.
3. A pre-consultation agreement that covers teaching time. In the past, full and part time teachers had their teaching hours stipulated in their employment contracts. When this clause was removed it caused some alarm bells to ring in regards to future teaching time. Now members have an agreement that both sets the teaching time and obligates the BC to consult with the union prior to making any changes. This is better than an employment contract stipulation as it is set in an agreement between the employer and the union. 4. Union notice board. The British Council has also agreed to provide an A3 space in the staff room for the posting of union materials. We hope that this is a sign that the BC is interested in a good relationship with the union.
The British Council branch will continue to try organising Japanese staff and hourly-paid teachers. These two groups of workers have a chance to win improvements and guarantees to their working conditions based on the improvements already won by full and part-time teachers.