The survey was conducted online between September and December 2014 and was sent to all union members to complete and disseminate amongst their coworkers and friends. The survey was also advertised on a host of internet forums where teachers tend to visit.
Those sites included mainly JALT (Japan Association of Language Teachers) and local JALT chapter sites, and ETJ (English Teachers Japan) which clearly shows up in the results as the survey was heavily answered by those working in universities and private language schools while there is an absence from those working in language teaching in other workplaces.
We received 489 responses, but 24 of those who were working solely in kindergartens or office and commercial settings were eliminated as the survey group for those in these settings were too small to be helpful to the survey, so respondents in these settings were only included if they also worked as teachers in the workplaces listed above. Also, seven who are currently not living in Japan were also automatically deleted..
In the future we will have to try to get the survey in the hands of the growing number of teachers in schools, especially Assistant Language Teachers dispatched by private companies to work in board of education, and those working in kindergartens.
The high number of respondents from those at universities and schools probably also raised the respondents’ average age and length in Japan, as those working in universities tend to have been in Japan much longer than private language teachers and ALTs. This is also reflected in the high number of respondents who are married and have acquired permanent residency
While a self selecting survey can never be completely accurate, we hope that the 445 respondents will give us a good snapshot of those working as teachers throughout Japan.
A few very interesting points were also revealed in the survey.
One, wages for those working in language schools have greatly stagnated with the majority still earning 3 million per year which is no different than when the requirement to obtain a visa was three million per year. We also confirmed that there is a growing number of teachers in language schools earning less than three million.
Self reporting of wages and living standards also shows a majority of respondents whose wages have either remained the same or even declined, and the clear majority stating that they have little or no job security.
The number of those, now enrolled in Shakai Hoken & Shigaku Kyosai, and employment insurance also tends to have greatly grown. While there is no way to compare these figures, the union’s own straw polls from our campaigns in the early and mid 2000s showed that many were not enrolled in any of these insurances. While this is good news, there are still a large number of those working, even full time, without the insurances mandated by law especially in the private language schools where only about 50% reported being enrolled.
In the future, a few issues will need to be corrected in the way the survey is conducted.
We have already highlighted that the sites we used for advertising the survey may have led us to a group of teachers who are usually more economically secure and have been in Japan longer. How this can be corrected is something we will need to consider.
Also, due to the number of those on the survey who are not in full time employment, we will need a more comprehensive survey so we can map out respondents’ jobs and their economic satisfaction with those jobs.
We hope that this survey can act as a source to highlight member and non member concerns and identify issues around which the union can be involved in future organising.
If you would like more information about the survey, please contact General Union chair, Dennis Tesolat at tesolat (at mark) generalunion.org
Download it in pdf at www.bit.ly/greatwagesurvey