As we enter the winter of 2021-22, the General Union continues to raise issues with Gaba regarding COVID-19, health and safety in the workplace, and transparency.
As of mid-October 2021 the official COVID cases in Japan have dropped, although deaths are still averaging dozens a day. Gaba has improved its protective measures over the last year and a half, which is good to see. It placed signs about correct mask-wearing, corrected clients who didnt wear masks correctly and required everyone in the LS to wear non-woven masks for better protection.
Unfortunately, the fifth wave of summer 2021 saw a large spike in cases, with not all serious cases able to be hospitalized and many deaths, a number of which should have been prevented. There were a number of cases related to Gaba Learning Studios. While the fifth wave has subsided, COVID has not disappeared, and the authorities are preparing for a possible sixth wave.
However, it is not only up to the government authorities to help reduce the impact of COVID. As it is impossible to follow the government-advised three Cs (avoiding close, confined conversation) with the way the company currently operates, the company can and should do more to make its business as safe as possible. Making N95-type masks mandatory and providing them would improve protection in Gabaís cramped workspace, and CO2 meters would indicate potential ventilation problems.
In addition to COVID measures, the General Union would like to see more transparency from Gaba on a range of issues. Gaba employees generally are given information that instructors are not, even when the same issues impact them both. One recent example is the recent issues around the Moderna vaccine. Gaba told employees that the vaccine lots listed by the ministry of health, labor and welfare would not be used. It did not tell instructors this.
Another point is dealing with online lessons. Among various issues, one consideration is how the company will respond to any inappropriate behavior by clients in online lessons. The GU has spent considerable time pushing the company to deal with this better in regular lessons, and it would be best if the company prepares in advance for any issues that occur during online lessons, unlike its very slow and still opaque approach to harassment of instructors during regular lessons.
Years after the union began raising this, the company still fails to properly inform all instructors about issues around harassment and to inform them of the blocking policy in training. The union believes this problem should have been fixed long ago and that the company should directly deal with this issue with all instructors.
The list of the questions sent to GABA can be found here.