Venerable site: Students taking part in an anti-war rally file out through the gates of Tohoku University in Sendai in 1950. The storied university recently revealed that it plans not to renew the fixed-term contracts of up to 3,200 employees, thereby ensuring that they will not be able to become regular staff according to a recent revision to the Labor Contract Law. | KYODO

‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs

I have discussed the “five-year rule” several times before in this column — the revision of the Labor Contract Law (Rodo Keiyaku Ho) enacted in 2013. Under the amendment, any worker employed on serial fixed-term contracts (yūki koyō) for more than five years can give themselves permanent status. See my earlier stories for more details, particularly my March 2013 column, “Labor law reform raises rather than relieves workers’ worries

The amendment was supposed to give workers more job security. Or at least that is what lawmakers claimed the purpose was. From the start I had my doubts — doubts that are now being borne out.

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私の原点はマンハッタンデモ

全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン(略称:東ゼン労組)

執行委員・主任オルグ ルイス・カーレット

1995年8月6日。アメリカによって日本に原爆が投下された日からちょうど50年。私はニューヨーク、マンハッタンのど真ん中で、反戦、反核を叫んでいた。私はその日のデモのために、渾身の力を注いでいた。アメリカでは、かつて日本に原爆を投下した事実についての認識が薄いこともあって、私は自らの使命の如くデモの成功に向け奔走した。マンハッタンの中央通りで大勢の仲間とデモ行進をしたことは、今でも昨日のことのように脳裏に刻み込まれている。

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karoshi

Time to consign ‘death by overwork’ to Japan’s history

A 24-year-old pressured to work long, hard hours beyond what she could tolerate at the largest advertising agency in Japan jumped from her third-floor dorm room on Christmas Day of last year.

This story went viral, and labor researchers around the country mumbled to themselves, “Dentsu again?”

Dentsu is an ad giant notorious for brutal work hours and its merciless management style. Any labor law textbook worth its salt that covers karōshi (death by overwork) will also introduce the Supreme Court’s famous Dentsu death-by-overwork case. In August 1991 a man, also 24, hanged himself at his home. In 2000, Japan’s highest court ruled that the “suicide was caused by horrendous working conditions.” Eventually Dentsu and the surviving family agreed on a settlement of ¥168 million.

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p11-labor-a-20160926-870x612

Sagamihara massacre begs question: Do we want a society that only values usefulness?

Let me apologize up front for tackling an issue that is not purely about labor per se.

The brutal mass murder in July in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, made me feel that our society must address a simple yet difficult question: What does work mean to human beings? I feel that I must candidly convey to you, dear readers, what this tragedy says to me, and then ask you for your opinions.

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東京学芸大学事件命令書交付について

当委員会は、本日、標記の不当労働行為救済申立事件について、命令書を交付しましたのでお知らせします。命令書の概要は、以下のとおりです(詳細は別紙)。

1 当事者

申立人
全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン、全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオンTGUISS支部
被申立人
国立大学法人東京学芸大学

2 事件の概要

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Panel bans Tokyo university’s Japanese-only labor talks policy

TOKYO —

A labor panel ordered a Tokyo university Wednesday to not refuse to use English in negotiations with a foreign teachers’ labor union at its affiliated school.

Tokyo Gakugei University had notified the union at Tokyo Gakugei University International Secondary School that it would hold talks only if Japanese is used, said the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Labor Relations Commission.

The panel branded the policy an “unfair” labor practice and ordered the state-run university to correct it.

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Tozen Union Wins Precedent-Setting Negotiating Language Case Against Tokyo Gakugei University

The Tokyo Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ordered Tokyo Gakugei University to “engage in collective bargaining without insisting it be conducted in Japanese or that (the union) bring an interpreter.”

In the first case of its kind, Tozen Union and the TGUISS Teachers Union had sued the school for making negotiations in Japanese a condition of holding collective bargaining.
The university argued that talks should be in Japanese because “this is Japan” and that forcing management to negotiate in a foreign language would be an intolerable burden.

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Pop quiz: Which of these types of government worker has the right to strike — tax inspectors, schoolteachers, firefighters or public health workers? Answer: None of the above, thanks to an Occupation-era law designed to tamp down the influence of communism. | KYODO

The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights

I research labor law and teach it to university students. In the first class, I break up the two groups of labor laws — those related to individual and collective labor relations — for my students. Individual labor relations law begins and ends with the 1947 Labor Standards Act (rōdō kijun hō); its collective counterpart is surely the 1950 Trade Union Act (rōdō kumiai hō).

About 99.9 percent of my 18-20-year-olds look blank the first time they hear the word “rōdō kumiai,” or labor union. Some of them have arubaito (part-time jobs) and thus already have become rōdōsha (workers) protected by labor laws, but they have not heard of labor unions and have no idea what such a creature looks like. I have my work cut out trying to explain to them the concepts of labor unions, collective bargaining and striking.

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