Latest Nova Court Update – February 20

Feb 25, 2018

We can say without reservation that Mike did very well and our lawyers were pleased.
In regards to Nova’s witness, however: we have suspicion that she lied on some of the points in her statements, and we will be combing through recordings of previous collective bargaining sessions to find evidence of this.

Beyond this, our subjective opinion is that the manager sent by Nova (again, to testify on their behalf) was not particularly invested in the job that she had been sent there to do.

Much to our surprise, Nova’s witness left straight after testifying instead of staying to observe to our witness’s testimony, and then to give advice to Nova’s lawyers on how to cross-examine him.

This is what usually happens in these kinds of cases as the lawyers do not have any real “on the ground” experience or understanding of how things work in school on a day-to-day basis. Suffice to say, lawyers need the help of people who know the system, and it is curious that the Nova manager did not stay behind to offer her insight and support. Of course, as stated, this only our subjective opinion.

However, from our point of view, Nova’s lawyers did not conduct themselves particularly well in court.

In contrast, the union is lucky in that our lawyers are experienced in working with foreigners, and know the difficulties of such things as simultaneous interpretation and the need to simplify things.

The opposition had a habit of asking questions so convoluted that both the judge AND the interpreter had difficulty understanding (in fact, the judge often seemed quite frustrated with them!).

At the end of the day, the judge wanted to speak with both sides privately and – as is common in Japan – urged both sides to settle.

After talking with Nova, the judge indicated that Nova would not agree to our objective of bringing a final end to the “independent contractor” system, but believed that a financial settlement may be possible.

In reply, the union asserted that our goal was never about compensation, but a desire to end the cancerous “independent contractor” system so prevalent in the English language industry; a system that enables the suppression of salaries and other fair working conditions at various companies, while permitting Nova (and Gaba, under a similar system) to profit at the expense of the employee via saving on paid annual leave, insurances, and so on.

Even worse, we now see this illegal type of employment spreading to smaller private schools, universities and even kindergartens!

The union believes that, to accomplish actual change (and so we don’t find ourselves fighting this same battle in the future) we need to go to a ruling on the case rather than settle.

As stated, the original case was never about money – it was about end the exploitative “independent contract” system for good. This is why the union funded the case using money paid by members across the whole spectrum of branches.