It was explained to them that this was because of the Labour Contract Renewal Act; that, if contracts were renewed, Doshisha would have to give teachers who have worked longer than 5 years an indefinite contract.
They were also incorrectly told that the new law would mean Doshisha would have to pay the same redundancy money (taishokin) to part-time teachers as they do to sennin.
In fact, the law requires nothing of the sort. It makes it clear that, after being employed 5 years from April 2013, a worker can request an indefinite contract with the same conditions. The employer has to honor such a request.
We were surprised to hear that an institution such as Doshisha was planning to fire employees in order to avoid having to implement the reforms written into the new labour contract law. Only recently, MEXT (The Ministry of Education) had circulated a letter to national universities warning them against this kind of action, and advising them to contact local Labour Bureaus.
As soon as the General Union heard about this, we contacted the Doshisha personnel department. We also submitted the following demands:
- Inform the General Union where and by whom this decision to terminate part-time teachers was taken.
- Provide correct information, and not misinformation, about the new law to all your employees, including details of their right to request and indefinite contract.
- Withdraw the threat to terminate these teachers.
- Offer the teachers concerned a contract without a term limit from this April, 2017.
The Doshisha personnel department denied that this action was anything to do with the Doshisha trust.
Two days later, teachers at the school were once again summoned to meetings.
However, this time they were told that there had been a mistake and the information that they had been given previously was not correct.
While the trust could not guarantee that every teacher would be renewed, there would apparently be no mass non-renewal of part-time teachers. On March 3rd, the union received a written reply to our demands.
In this response, Doshisha denied that they had taken any decision to terminate teachers. They refused to concede to permanent contracts on the grounds that their part-time teachers were all on one-year contracts.
Although teachers were still uneasy about the situation, they were pleased to hear this response from the Doshisha trust.
At the start of the new academic year, teachers were issued their new contracts.
They were pleasantly surprised to find a new section of the working rules attached which stated that all part-time teachers at the four Doshisha Junior/Senior High Schools would be given a permanent contract after five years.
Given this change to the working rules, the question is why had teachers been threatened with renewal and why had they not been told about the changes prior to the union’s involvement?
Teachers were grateful for the union’s actions and commented to members that the General Union had done a great job in fighting for them over this issue.
They were also left wondering: what would have happened if there wasn’t a union already in place at Doshisha?