On July 25th and August 27th, 2014, AETs demanded to negotiate with their employer, the Mayor of Takatsuki city, on the issues related to their life and work, based upon the Article 9 of their employment contract.
Their contract states:
“Should any doubt, questions, or any unexpected circumstances arise from the contents of this agreement, the matter shall be settled by negotiations between employer and employee.”
However, Takatsuki city and the BoE repeatedly refused to negotiate with their employees, the AETS. It was only after the AETs had unionized that the BoE decided that it would finally talk to them.
Since the beginning of the program, Takatsuki AETs have always been issued working visas by the MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, obtaining working visas in the “Instructor” category of academic professions. Essential to being granted these visas was the presentation of their employment contracts – contracts that were personally signed by the Mayor of Takatsuki city.
On September 30th, 2014, in the plenary session of Takatsuki City Assembly, one councilor confirmed the residential status of AETs. In reply to this statement of fact, the vice-Mayor answered:
“AETs applied for the visas as international exchange staff and then were given the visas in the category of education.”
A Summary of the Facts
1. In the former case, Takatsuki City and the BoE clearly violated the employment agreement they had made with AETs.
2. In the latter case, it is enough to say that no visa category for “international exchange staff” even exists.
Finding the Truth Between Lies and Laws
Though the evidence seems stacked against Takatsuki city and its BoE, we have to know as fact that they have treated AETs in such a manner. For two decades, Takatsuki AETs have been left outside of Japanese Laws. They have received no benefits at work and no rental contracts for their apartment. In short, they have not been treated with the essential human dignity that the LABOR STANDARDS ACT and common decency demands.
Another important fact: this miserable, long standing, and completely unlawful situation only started to be exposed to the public after the commitment of the GENERAL UNION to the cause.
It would be fair to say that the situation in Takatsuki was – and continues to be – an extreme case. However, at the same time, it could also happen to you or people around you, at any time.
1. We have to be “clever” in respect of the true definition of the word. We have to know who we are and what our rights are.
2. Sometimes, you have to deal with ignorant employers (or even ones in local government who act like laws unto themselves). They will not hesitate to lie, exploit people, and break laws, in order to save their own skin.
3. Knowledge is always power. Try to educate yourself, and know that the GENERAL UNION will always be a good place for you to understand your rights, hand-in-hand with other union members who are doing the same.
4. The GENERAL UNION is useful for you, even if you don’t have an issue that needs solving right this minute. No employer can legally refuse to negotiate with a union.