The General Union (GU) has taken action by filing a lawsuit against Jikei Group’s International Learning Centre (ILC) at the Osaka District Court on 27 June.
The Jikei Group is a prominent educational organization in Japan, providing practical vocational and professional training through multiple colleges and learning centres all across Japan. ILC itself is involved in the dispatch of foreign teachers to Jikei group schools.
This legal pursuit comes in response to the unjust dismissal and denial of contract renewal faced by one of our members, and we are asking the court to confirm the member’s continued employment and fulfill the employer’s obligation to pay all back wages. However, this case goes beyond the immediate concerns of an individual worker; it sheds light on the systemic obstacles that contract workers encounter in their struggle for job security.
Our GU member embarked on their employment journey with ILC in 2018 under one-year contracts. With the hope of eventually attaining an unlimited term contract (UTC) after completing five years of dedicated service, they eagerly awaited the 2022 contract renewal. Yet, ILC’s refusal to provide a 2023 contract has sabotaged our member’s chance to apply for a UTC, a right protected by the Labour Contract Law.
Unscrupulous Practices and Unfair Labour Conduct
ILC’s actions have been far from transparent. During the collective bargaining process before the 2022 contract renewal, ILC assured the union that no changes would be made to working conditions. However, the sudden inclusion of a non-renewable clause in the 2022 contract revealed the company’s deceitful nature, effectively barring our member from pursuing a UTC.
Initially, the union lodged a complaint against ILC with the Osaka Labour Commission, citing the lack of honesty during collective bargaining as an unfair labour practice under the Trade Union Law. However, we have chosen to pursue justice through the civil court system, believing it to be better equipped to address the underlying issues and secure a fair outcome for our member.
Systemic Challenges in Employment Security
This lawsuit against ILC exposes a recurring problem faced by contract workers across Japan. Many employers, including prominent institutions such as Doshisha schools and Osaka International University, impose caps on contract renewals to prevent workers from obtaining an UTC. Such practices directly contradict the spirit of the 2013 amendments to the labor contract law, which were introduced to enhance employment security for contracted workers.
The GU’s lawsuit against Jikei Group’s International Learning Centre signifies much more than the struggle of avn individual member; it highlights the fundamental rights that contract workers deserve. By obstructing the path to unlimited term contracts, companies like ILC undermine the employment security of their workers. It is imperative that organizations honor the essence of labour laws and prioritize fair treatment for all employees.
This lawsuit serves as a warning to companies to re-evaluate their practices and cultivate a more equitable working environment for all contracted workers.