Tezukayama University: Mid-year koma cuts unfair

Dec 17, 2010

When the university doesn’t get the enrollment that they wish for a class, they simply cut the teacher’s koma. Basically, universities force their business risk on to the employees. Part-time university teachers already face a lot of uncertainty and a lack of job security year to year. Now universities are compounding this problem by refusing to honour their own employment contracts. This is what happened to a member at Tezukayama when he lost both his koma at the start of the new semester. We know that universities will argue that the clause allowing them to do this are stated clearly in the contracts. The Tezukayama contract also states that the university can cancel the koma with one month’s pay. We believe that the Labour Standards Law forbids this kind of treatment. Article 26 of the law states, “In the event of an absence from work for a cause imputable to the employer, the employer shall pay an allowance equal to 60 percent or more of the worker’s average wage…” In cases where the standards set in the contract are less than the minimum standards in the law, the law prevails (Article 13). In a case like Tezukayama, where the koma was cancelled due to the university’s failure to sign up enough students to the class, we believe that the Labour Standards Law’s requirement to pay 60% or more of the wages to be clear. The union plans to challenge this unfair cut by first demanding 100% payment from the employer, and then follow it up with a complaint at the Labour Standards Office. We believe that a victory, where either the university backs down or the Labour Standards Office issues an order, will make it more difficult for other universities to implement similar points in their employment contracts.