Monday, January 16, General Union’s Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School Branch undertook its first ever dispute action in the branch’s twenty-year history.
Branch members and union staff gathered outside the school gate from 7:15am to leaflet the families and students before the school’s entrance exams were to occur to inform about the unfairness of the school’s actions against its teachers.
Citing changes to the national curriculum, the school announced cuts in the work hours of all members. Members are fighting against these unilateral changes that will make a deep cut into their livelihoods – an 18% cut to the workers’ collective income, actually. This pain is augmented by the fact that there is no prospect of a pay rise in this economy, dampened by high inflation.
An Attack on All Irregular Workers
One of General Union’s main arguments is that the cuts not only threaten workers’ incomes directly, but they fly in the face of government initiatives designed to protect working conditions and income of all irregular workers. In 2018, the Diet implemented a law allowing limited term irregular contract workers to obtain non-limited term contracts. Under this arrangement, working conditions may, in principle, only be changed through mutual agreement between workers and management, and the employer should take every step possible to protect the working conditions of the employees. In fact, this arbitrary attack on working conditions would set a negative precedent for all workers who are depending on stable working conditions.
With this in mind, the union members suggested reasonable solutions to the problem, including payment for (heretofore unpaid) preparation time, which has increased due to recent changes in lesson delivery methods. This way, the school is not forced to keep lessons open for no reason, and experienced instructors retain some income. However, despite several rounds of informal and formal negotiations, the school is refusing to back down from its position or offer any kind of compromise.
The Fight is Just Starting
Now, faced with increased unpaid preparation time and huge pay cuts, General Union teachers at Doshisha Kori are fighting back. They plan to begin a regimen of “working to rule” starting this April: they will refuse to stay at work after classes or answer any emails outside of work time, as they have done before.
The battle has only just begun at Doshisha Kori.