Union Pickets Doshisha Kori, Vows to Fight Unlawful Class Cuts

Mar 11, 2024 ,

Members of the General Union, along with representatives from Osaka Zenrokyo, held a spirited picket and leafletting action today, March 11, 2024, in front of Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School. The action aimed to draw attention to the ongoing dispute over the school’s unilateral reduction of class assignments and pay for part-time lecturers who are union members on unlimited term contracts.

The union distributed many leaflets during the weekday morning picket, which included picket signs plastered with around 50 selfies of solidarity sent in by union members from across Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. Despite a weekday morning action which reduces our members out on the line, having an extra 50 people on the picket line really lifted the picketers’ spirits.

At the heart of the dispute is Doshisha Kori’s decision to reduce class units (koma) for these part-time teachers, resulting in lower monthly wages without their consent. This move violates Article 8 of the Labor Contract Act, which stipulates that changes to working conditions require agreement from both the employer and worker.

Ironically, during recent collective bargaining sessions, the school principal himself admitted that the employer cannot make such unilateral cuts to working conditions as it contravenes labour laws. Yet, the school has persisted with its stance, stating that while recognizing the abnormality, teachers have “no choice but to accept the worsening of their working conditions.”

The union fiercely rejects this position, arguing that legal standing aside, many of these part-time teachers have dedicated years of service to Doshisha Kori. For the past eight to nine years, their class loads and wages had remained relatively steady until the sudden reductions began last year, with further cuts expected for the 2024 academic year.

Buoyed by today’s show of solidarity, the union is now preparing to file a case against the unlawful class cuts with the Osaka District Court. Members remain determined to uphold their rights under the Labour Contract Act and win this dispute, both on the picket lines and in court if necessary.

As one long-serving union member stated, “We have contributed immensely to this school. To have our livelihoods undermined like this is unacceptable. We will fight until our working conditions are respected and the law is upheld.”