Since being taken over by Nova in 2022, conditions for instructors at GABA have declined in a number of ways. The below situation illustrates this point.
On August 15th 2023, typhoon #7 (Typhoon Lan) hit the Kansai region, resulting in many train lines suspending their services. Previously in such situations, GABA has closed their Learning Studios – either making an announcement the day before or deciding to close on the day of the typhoon.
Closing the Learning Studios showed the company taking responsibility for the safety of clients and instructors. Instructors would then be compensated for lost income. This time however, GABA decided to keep the two Learning Studios in Osaka open. Even the neighbouring department stores in Umeda decided to close.
One General Union member had to close his schedule on that day due to the suspension of services on his train line – it was simply not possible for him to reach his workplace. This resulted in a loss of payment for eight lessons through no fault of his own. Many other instructors were also unable to make it to the Learning Studios on that day due to the typhoon conditions and also received no pay. Those that were still able to commute faced the choice of either losing out on income or endangering themselves by going outside during a typhoon.
This situation is unacceptable as it is but it is set to get even worse. GABA has recently announced that effective April 1st 2024, there will be ‘handling fees’ – effectively, fines – for instructors that wish to close booked lesson slots. Nova instructors have faced these fines for some time.
Typhoons occur every year, and when there is a situation similar to that of August 15th, it could result in an even more significant loss of income. For example, if an instructor has ten booked lessons but has to cancel them due to a typhoon, they would lose out on at least 15,000 yen in earnings.
Under the new system, the instructor would not only lose that income, but could then actually be charged a total of 14,000-15,000 yen in “handling fees” if they had to close their schedule on the same day. If the instructor was unable to contact the company to cancel the lessons, it is possible they could be fined 50,000 yen – 5,000 yen per lesson.
This is totally unacceptable.