General Union

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What is the General Union?

The General Union is a legally registered labour union, open to any and all workers.

Since it’s founding in 1991, our union has established a solid reputation for protecting members’ rights and improving working conditions. We are workers just like you who have joined together to protect our livelihoods and rights as workers. As a union, we are able to provide our members advice on workplace issues, and we actively help our members to organize and negotiate for better conditions in their workplaces.

The General Union is part of a national private-sector trade union known as the National Union of General Workers (Zenkoku Ippan Rodo Kumiai Zenkoku Kyogi-kai) and through this national union are members of the National Trade Union Council (Zenkoku Rodokumiai Renraku Kyogi-kai, better known as Zenrokyo). Membership in these organisations gives our union solid backing and know how when it’s needed.

Who Can Join?

The majority of our members are teachers and staff at conversation schools, ALTs at public schools, private elementary and jr./sr. high schools, international schools, and universities. However, our union is open to any full time or part time worker regardless of nationality, industry, and job.

How Can the Union Help Me and Coworkers?

We help by offering advice and concrete support on how you and your coworkers can form and run a union branch at your school or company. The size and determination of your branch are both important considerations in deciding what improvements your branch can achieve. When you and your coworkers are ready, experienced Japanese and foreign members of the General Union will assist you in negotiating collective agreements with your company. Our experience shows that when people join together, they can win significant improvements, and a fair deal.

What is a Fair Deal?

What is fair and reasonable isn’t simply a matter of employers following the minimum standards set in the law. The law does not require an employer to give pay rises and the minimum wage in Japan is less than 1000 yen an hour in most prefectures. On the other hand, without you and your coworkers, your company can’t run. The least that you should expect is a fair share and a say in what happens at your workplace. The General Union considers all of the following to be both fair and reasonable:

  • A work environment that promotes professional development
  • Paid National Holidays
  • At least 10 flexible paid vacation days per year
  • Enrollment in Unemployment Insurance, Employees Health & Pension Insurance
  • Paid maternity and child-care leave
  • Contracts without artificial one year term limits
  • No arbitrary/unfair dismissals or non-renewals
  • Overtime pay if you work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week
  • No discrimination based on nationality, race, language, gender, age, or sexual orientation
  • A workplace free of harassment
  • Regular pay rises