Through various channels of communication (including international collective bargaining initiated by the General Union) it now appears that Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) are finally ready to admit their involvement in the mistreatment of the AETs. In addition, the TRC has affirmed the contributions to English education that the AET program had accomplished, and expressed a desire to restart the program in the future, with a new focus towards ensuring that the treatment of future teachers is handled in full compliance with Japanese labor law.
Not only that, but the TRC has asserted willingness to accept previous AETs who may wish to return to Takatsuki as AET Ambassadors, even after suffering the effects of the upset and defamation that has been thrust upon them.
The General Union and the Takatsuki AET union members have welcomed the positive statements made by the Toowoomba Regional Council. In turn, on February 18th, 2016, the General Union decided to drop their case against the TRC (and the TRC only), which had been previously making its way through the Osaka Labor Relations Commission.
On the afternoon of the same day, a press conference was held in Takatsuki City Hall to announce the decision to cease the case, while explaining the reasons behind the move.
In following, unions and citizens both visited the Takatsuki mayor’s office to hand deliver a document urging the mayor to restart the AET program – a necessary action due to the fact that the program is currently stalled only due to Takatsuki City showing no active will to settle the issue, or even accept any blame for their involvement.
However, what began as a symbolic action soon became quite unusual…
When they visited the mayor’s office, union members, private citizens supportive of the cause, and the media team who were following them, found themselves surrounded by a number of security guards and city staff members.
After attempting to prevent the media team from filming the event, Takatsuki city officials told the media that there would be “no comment” because “the case is under way in the Osaka Labor Relations Commission.”
Even though its sister-city has admitted misconduct in an attempt to redeem themselves and move forward into the future, expressing a positive outlook that the issues can be resolved and the program restarted, Takatsuki city officials are still content to hide behind the claim that they have done nothing wrong, remaining obstinate in the face of attempts at reconciliation.
While the reasons behind Takatsuki city’s stubborn refusal to accept their role in the aspersion are unknown, what is certain is that the fight for the restart of the AET program – a restart desired by union, AET union members, members of the public, and Toowoomba city itself – is not likely to be resolved any time soon.
In the meantime, thanks to media attention and the tireless efforts of the General Union to ensure that this issue is not just swept under the rug and forgotten about, the story was reported on the evening news on February 18th, 2016, and the video of that report will appear here, soon.