Last July, Nova acquired Gaba. Nova has already made a number of changes. Among other things, the purchase looks to be precipitating bad changes for Gaba’s native foreign language instructors. Most recently, the company slashed the operating hours of 20 Language Studios.
In response, unionised Gaba instructors helped their fellow workers call the company out by collecting a critical petition and submitting it directly to company management.
Gaba considers all its instructors to be freelancers (although General Union and many instructors believe that the designation does not accurately describe their real working conditions). Therefore, they are paid only for lessons taught.
Despite the freelancer designation which usually entails higher pay, remuneration at Gaba starts at a paltry 1500 yen per 40 minute lesson. This pay-rate can increase, particularly in the early morning and evening. The cuts to operating hours reduces the number of these premium lesson slots at the 20 Learning Studios, significantly reducing earnings of affected instructors. A worried Gaba instructor told this writer that their monthly income has been cut by nearly 50,000 yen and that they are worried about how to cope with this loss in addition to the cost of inflation. They are even worried that their bid for a visa renewal is in danger due to the change.
Moreover, the change throws away an advantage Gaba had over other eikaiwas by being able to provide lessons during hours that other language schools may be closed. According to Gaba instructors, the cuts have irritated clients and hurt Gaba’s appeal to prospective students. One instructor noted, “I have lost regular clients that I spent years building relationships with.”
In response to this, the Gaba Branch of the General Union put out a petition to collect the signatures and comments of Gaba instructors. 50 signatures were gathered overall. This may seem small at first glance, but that number is far greater than the number of immediately affected instructors and every signatory submitted their full name. The ask was simple: reverse the change and let instructors work!
Gaba instructors – and all workers across Japan – you are right if you feel like nearly every new change at work is bad and that it is becoming unacceptable. The only way to make your workplace better is to fight alongside your peers. Join General Union to do just that or apply for a consultation today!