Our members work for the overall educational trust, Bunsai Gakuen, so the financial health of the whole organisation needs to be considered, not just that of Osaka Gaigo.
Members entered negotiations prepared to deal in good faith and determined to win an increase in their salaries.
They came across a hostile employer that insisted there was no money in the kitty for a raise.
Members then simply asked for facts – we wanted to see the financial documents to back this poverty claim up.
The union’s position was simple: a company must back up their position in collective bargaining with facts in order to maintain their legally required good faith mandated in the Trade Union Law.
This position was later backed up by the entirety of the legal system.
Having been refused a pay increase and any proof of financial inability to raise wages, members, along with Naniwa Union (a union representing full time regular instructors and staff) staged three strikes in order to bring their demands to the public.
Osaka Gaigo, remained frozen like deer caught in a headlight. The chairperson of their educational trust who remained in Tokyo along with their main money making school, refused to participate in negotiations or to give Osaka negotiators the green light necessary to settle.
Shortly after the strikes, the unions filed a case against the educational trust that runs Osaka Gaigo (Bunsai Gakuen) at the Osaka Labour Commission for failure to negotiate (article 7 of the Trade Union Law forbids an employer to refuse collective bargaining and mandates that collective bargaining must carried out in good faith).
After almost two years, we easily won the case… but this was not enough for the organisation that claimed they had no money.
Bunsai Gakuen then sued the Osaka Labour Commission.
They then appealed to the Osaka Superior Court.
They made a final appeal to the Supreme Court.
You guessed it: the top court refused to hear the case.
(This is a compact summary, please see the entire story here).
We have now started a process of proper collective bargaining.
The employer has issued an apology to the union as they were ordered to do, and has started supplying financial data for the whole of the educational trust.
This could have all been avoided if the school had just followed the members’ advice in 2013 by opening the books and proving they didn’t have the money.
However, a refusal to open the books is a telling signal to all.
What we have found now that the books have been ordered open is a healthy organisation which should be offering pay increases.
So, hats off to our long standing members at Osaka Gaigo for never giving up.
You are an inspiration!