Fear of criminal prosecution forces Tezukayama University to settle Labour Standards Law violation

Oct 14, 2013

University to blame for class cancellations, not the teacher. Have a similar problem? Make sure to contact us immediately.

Tezukayama University, under threat of criminal prosecution after a complaint from a GU part-time teacher for breaking the Labour Standards Law, settled a case of cancelled koma (classes) after the contract was signed.

According to the Labour Standards Law an employer must pay for the cancellation of work which is attributable to the employer; in the case Koma that is cancelled after the academic year begins due to low enrollment.

However, there are more than a few universities that refuse to pay this allowance when classes are cancelled in April or September. The usual excuse that teachers are given is that “it says in the contract that only so-many months’ wages shall be paid in case of cancellation of classes.” Tezukayama University was one such university. In 2010, they refused to pay teachers for the cancelled classes, so the General Union reported the incident to Nara Labour Standards Office. The office issued a ruling that they should pay on the basis that classes were cancelled “for reasons attributable to the employer”, therefore, non-payment is “a violation of clause 26 of the Labour Standards Law.” Tezukayama paid.

In response the University forced 400 teachers working there to sign an agreement as a condition for employment, stating that they understood the allowance for cancellation of work did not apply in the case of cancellation of classes. Again, our member lost classes and again the union filed a complaint. The Labour Standards Office issued another ruling ordering Tezukayama to pay, but the university refused using the agreement as an excuse.

In protest at this outrageous conduct, the General Union filed a criminal complaint for violation of the Labour Standards Law against the University and its president. Judicial Officers at the Labour Bureau and the Labour Standards Office investigated the suspect, and decided to send the case against him to the Nara District Public Prosecutors’ Office.

The District Public Prosecutors’ Office directed the employer to “settle the dispute through collective bargaining with the GU.” The University hurriedly apologized to the Union, and eventually in August 2013, they signed a labour agreement promising to pay the teachers any unpaid allowances and other financial settlements, to revise the employment contract in accordance with the law, and to pay the allowance for absence in future.

While all class cancellations are a little different, we can not guarantee victory in all cases, but the most important thing to do is to let the union know immediately.