On July 4th, the GU filed a suit with the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission against International School of English (ISE), an English conversation school operating in Yokohama, for engaging in unfair labour practices that violate the Trade Union Law.
At ISE, three workers joined the General Union in October of last year, followed by another three workers in February of this year. Needless to say, this was done with the aim of improving the working environment. Specifically, we demanded compliance with labour laws such as paid leave, as well as the application of social insurance and employment insurance.
In response, the president of ISE individually summoned these union members and made disparaging remarks about GU, stating, “The group you joined (referring to GU) is not what you think it is. You should investigate. Basically, they are on the same level as ‘sokaiya’ (racketeers). If you don’t know what racketeers are, it’s like an organisation involved in ‘shakedowns’.”
Furthermore, the president stated, “Since their (the union’s) reputation is not good, we will not engage in discussions with them. That’s why we have involved our lawyers.” Since March, the employer has refused to engage in collective bargaining with us and has delegated all authority to a law firm.
During the collective bargaining session held in June with ISE’s lawyer, we demanded, that the president apologise and retract the statements as the statements constituted clear unfair labour practices. However, shockingly, the lawyer refused our request, stating that since he believes the statements not to be unfair labour practices, they will not issue an apology. In light of this response from the lawyer, the General Union has proceeded by suing the employer at the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission.
Article 7, Section 3 of the Labour Union Act prohibits employers from “dominating, intervening in, or interfering with the establishment or operation of a labour ” Disparaging and defaming a labour union to its members constitutes the prohibited “domination and intervention” as defined by the law. It is undoubtedly a violation of Article 7, Section 3 of the Labour Union Act.
Our mission is to establish and protect the rights of workers and labour unions, and we kindly request your warm support and solidarity in this fight against ISE English conversation school.