While the first two demands were finalised as a strike loomed, the last demand took an unfair labour practices case filed against the company at the Osaka Labour Commission.
But instead of a strike breaking out like it has in many other years, ECC made an offer over pay and special paid leave.
On the pay front, members won a 15 yen per hour increase.
This was a first for the ECC branch to win without having to take strike action.
Members were prepared to strike; members took a positive strike vote; and finally, the company realised that an offer was necessary.
Not a tremendous increase in pay – but one without one lost day of pay on strike and the company finally gave in on exact parity with sei-shain employees over the special paid leave.
Our unfair labour practices case against ECC was also withdrawn in November as the company finally gave in and returned the orientation and rent subsidy that they had taken away in retaliation for our 2016 strikes that won a 30 yen an hour increase.
At Berlitz, a positive strike vote over employment and income security demands also won a sizable victory for members at this company.
In a major development, Berlitz Japan and the General Union reached an agreement to improve employee working conditions for work performed by Per Lesson (zero-hour contracts where teachers guarantee availability with no guarantee of work or pay during this time) contract teachers.
While contents of the agreement cannot be disclosed to third parties, we can say that we achieved an important agreement over income and employment security for union members.
Unlike ECC which has faced three strikes since 2015, Berlitz worked with the union in good faith to reach this settlement.
Honest negotiations from both employers where members walk away from the bargaining table with positive outcomes like in 2018 will lead to a strike-free 2019.
Many wonder how both these branches have been so successful over the past few years.
Well, it’s not magic: both branches have a substantial union presence via union members.
There are around 100 union members at ECC, and over 50 union members in the Berlitz branch – a sizable portion of the teachers.
Members have focused not only on demands that improve members lives, but also on those that increase union rights and lead to an expansion of future membership.
The union holds collective agreements with both companies which allow dues to be deducted and paid directly from salaries, strong grievance procedures to protect individual membesr, union introduction and company held orientation sessions at ECC, and the right to post union materials at Berlitz.
These rights lead to a wide acceptance from teachers of the union which attracts teachers to join and stay union members.
Branch officers work hard to get and keep members involved, and members have made hard decisions about strikes and have stuck together through thick and thin.
…and voila, two strong General Union branches.