As you may recall, the General Union filed an unfair labor practices case against the Takatsuki Board of Education after they refused to allow union members to attend graduation ceremonies in retaliation for joining the union.
Naturally, we won the case hands down. However, the Board of Education maintained the argument that the teachers “weren’t employees” but were actually “international volunteers”.
Therefore (so the twisted logic goes), the Board of Education did not have to allow them to attend the graduation ceremonies at all.
Yes, the Board of Education was really trying to claim that the union members were volunteers – volunteers with employment contracts, salaries, and even a ruling from the Labour Bureau (which upheld their employment status and ordered their enrolment in employee insurances).
Not knowing when to quit, the Board of Education – unwilling to accept the labour commission’s judgment – sued the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission at the Osaka District Court, demanding that the Labour Commission’s verdict (that employees are not volunteers) be overturned.
Yep, it was the same old argument as always.
Hey, it didn’t work before, but the Board of Education has been nothing if not tenacious. Maybe this time would be different?
Maybe not. At the latest hearing, we sensed the judge was losing patience.
Anyway, the judge turns to the Takatsuki Board of Education and says:
“If the union members are not employees, please tell me the relationship – the LEGAL relationship – that the Board of Education has with these teachers. It is a city government, so they must be paid somehow, and I’m sure they’re not paid out of the mayor’s own pocket money.”
The lawyer was left speechless while the judge chuckled to himself after nicely summarising the entire case in two sentences.
Has the Takatsuki Board of Education finally learned its lesson?
Will they stop wasting taxpayers money on frivolous court cases and just accept responsibility?
Only time will tell.