Unpaid Allowances in the 2010 School Year
Tezukayama University in Nara failed to pay a General Union member an allowance for cancelled classes. Classes scheduled to be taught in September 2010 were cancelled by the university on the grounds that “not enough students had signed up. Tezukayama paid the September wages, but nothing for the rest of the semester.
The union sent demands to the university asking that the cancelled classes be paid for as per the Labour Standards Law since the cancelled work was attributable to the employer. However, the university refused payment, insisting that “according to the employment contract, we only have to pay one month’s worth of the wages”; that “the university has the authority to cancel classes at its own discretion”; and that “the cancellation was not for reasons attributable to the university”.
According to Article 26 of the Labour Standards Law, 60% of the average monthly wage must be paid when work is cancelled for reasons attributable to the employer. Since the employer is clearly responsible for ‘sales’ the cancelled work is the responsibility of the university.
The union member, accompanied by union officers, reported this to the Nara Labour Standards Office, seeking to redress the violation and on March 3, 2011, the Labour Standards Office ordered the university to pay the allowance for cancelled work.
Tezukayama University complied with the order, and paid the allowance.
Unpaid Allowances in the 2012 School Year
At contract signing time in January 2012, the university insisted that the member sign a new consent form. The consent form stated, “I consent that no compensation will be in the event of cancelled classes.” The member had no choice other than sign as the employer made it clear that there would be no contract renewal without his signature on the consent form. The union sent a protest to the university declaring that this consent form violated the Labour Standards Law and advised the member to sign because it is impossible to sign away your legally protected rights.
In April 2012 as the first-semester classes started the member was notified that his class had been cancelled. Again, Tezukayama paid only April’s wages and nothing for the rest of the semesterly contracted class. The union once again submitted demands for payment according to the Labour Standards Law, but the employer citing the consent form refused.
According to article 13 of the Labour Standards Law contractual “working conditions that are not in accordance with this law shall be void.” Therefore the employer’s attempt to subvert the law using the consent form was meaningless.
The union member once again reported this to the Nara Labour Standards Office, and in July of 2012, the Labour Standards Office once again issued an order to the university to pay the absence allowances. This time, however, regardless of the order, the university continued to argue that “there was no violation of the Labour Standards Law” and refused to pay.
Due to Tezukayama’s refusal to follow this order and correct its violation of the law, the General Union filed criminal charges against the university with the Nara Labour Standards Office. The office received our complaint and is conducting and investigation to make a report to the prosecutor’s office.
Tezukayama University must take seriously the fact that it was their own violation of the law which led to criminal charges, and must correct the problem immediately. The General Union will continue to press the issue until the violation is redressed.
As a full-fledged university which includes a law school, they should learn to comply with the law before trying to teach it to students.