Universities that rely largely upon part-time teachers on one year contracts have reacted with hostility to the new law which they believe threatens the “flexibility” of their labour-force.
Universities like Waseda and Osaka University introduced limits on employment for their hijokin. However, the General Union has argued that these do not actually affect the expectation of renewal of the existing teachers. We believe they have a right to continued employment.
The Abe government has since amended the new law to extend the period to 10 years for teachers and other positions at universities that have a substantial research element to the job. However, many universities fear that this does not apply to part-time teachers who are not employed to conduct research. They fear these people may become entitled to permanent employment after five years.
Ritsumeikan is the latest university introducing changes to prevent contract teachers from enjoying increased employment stability that the law was aimed to provide.
Under the new plan Ritsumeikan will not employ any new part-time teachers from April 2016. Existing part-time teachers may be renewed as a transitional measure. The retirement age for these teachers will be gradually reduced from the present 75 to 70 years of age. Despite this, after April 2018, the remaining part-time teachers will be able to request a contract without term limit.
The following new rules will exist for teachers on indefinite (unlimited) contracts.
- The retirement age will be 70
- The teacher shall follow the class organising policy of the university.
- Change in the number of classes due to a change in the curriculum will be accepted by the teacher.
- The teacher may be dismissed if classes the teacher is in charge of no longer exist, or if there are no similar courses available for them to teach in other departments.
A new position of “teacher in charge of class” will be established from April 2016. This contract may be renewed, but not beyond the 5th year. This position will also have a retirement age of 70. This effectively creates a new position but with far less security than the old part-time teachers.
Additionally, in an attempt to prevent teachers working more than 5 years in total, they will “in principle” no longer be able to move from one employment category. For example, a teacher could not go directly from hijokin to shokutaku. Although the rules do allow for exceptions when it suits the university, even in theses cases, the total term cannot exceed 5 years.
Although some existing part-timers may eventually benefit from the indefinite contract, the General Union is extremely worried that the university my attempt to minimise the numbers of these “permanent” part-timers by discontinuing or changing the names of existing courses, and getting fresh teachers to teach these “new” classes. Ritsumeikan teachers must organise to ensure that this does not happen.
Changes in the retirement age for existing teachers
The upper limit on employment for those who renew the contract among “part-time teachers in 2015 academic year” is shown in the table below.
Age (years old) on March 31st, 2016 The upper limit of employment
Below 60 70