When the word comes down that you have lost classes, it may already be too late. While not impossible, it is difficult for us as a union to reverse a decision to reduce the koma of a part-time teacher in December or January, once the decision has been taken by a faculty to do so. We have always stressed in our information to members the importance of identifying possible problems before they arise and contacting the union office about them. One thing the union has already done in many workplaces is to win what we call ‘pre-consultation agreements’. These agreements the employer to contact the union for consultation prior to making changes in members’ conditions. The problem with this is that while some employers are willing to really consult, others consider it to be a place where they tell the union their plans, not negotiate. Last year we have taken our pro active approach one step further. At the end of the first semester we declared our members at Hannan, Kobe Shoin, Handai and Kobe Shinwa universities and submitted demands for no cut in koma and no worsening of working conditions. At a number of these universities there had been rumours of koma cuts, or other threats to our members’ living standards. In the end, at least as far as our members were concerned, not one of these threats materialized and all of the members we declared to the university had unchanged koma and working conditions. At other universities, such as Setsunan, where the General Union has a pre-consultation agreement, we were successfully able to minimize problems caused by a change in the days of some language classes. Not just in universities either. One of our high school members who had undergone cuts in the past, was left alone this year once the union made a demand that no classes be cut from his part time schedule. For the 2011 academic year we would like to use the approach on a larger scale to cover more union members. Universities, generally speaking, do not want to pick a fight with the General Union if they can avoid it. Declaring your membership and the union submitting demands on your behalf to your university or school, is in our opinion the best way for members to safeguard their employment and working conditions. The General Union Schools and Colleges Branch will be holding a meeting on May 14th to discuss submitting demands at Universities for next year. Please come and see if this strategy is best for you and your coworkers. If it is, talk to the others about joining the union and doing it together as a group. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take control of your own working life.