Borderlink ALTs Unionized

On Friday, September 30th 20011, Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union and its Tozen ALTs Branch declared the existence of its Borderlink Shop to management and submitted a slate of 34 collective bargaining demands.

組合加入通知並びに団体交渉申し入れ書

Declaration of New Members, Request for Collective Bargaining

拝啓 貴社におかれましては、益々ご繁栄のこととお喜び申し上げます。

We hope your business is doing well.

さて、このたび私たちは、貴社従業員の全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン(以下、「組合」という)ならびに全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン東ゼンALT支部(以下、「支部」という)への加入を通知いたします。貴社は本日より、組合員の雇用・労働条件ならびに、その他労働条件に関連する事項について、当組合ならびに支部と協議決定する義務のあることを申し添えます。

We hereby inform you that some of your employees have joined Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (hereafter, “union,”) and Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union Tozen ALTs (hereafter, “local”). From this day forth, your company is obligated to negotiate with the union and local regarding union members’ employment, working conditions and all items related to working conditions.

当組合ならびに支部は、良好な労使関係を確立するために、誠意をもって交渉に臨む所存です。貴社におかれましては、速やかに当組合ならびに支部との団体交渉に応じるよう要請いたします。なお、団体交渉を拒否することは、労働組合法第7条に違反する不当労働行為に該当することを念のために申し添えます。

Our union and local will negotiate in good faith in order to establish a positive labor-management relationship. Therefore, we ask that you promptly agree to collective bargaining with the union and local without committing any unfair labor practices. We also add that refusing collective bargaining is an unfair labor practice in violation of Article 7 of Trade Union Law.

以下の要求事項を議題とし、以下の日時・場所で、団体交渉を申し入れます。

We ask for collective bargaining regarding the demands listed below at the below date, time and venue.

なお、今回、要求事項が34項目と多岐にわたりましたが、第1回団交でこのすべてについて話し合うことは到底できないことは承知しておりますので、どこから話し合うかという点についても、貴社と丁寧に協議を尽くしたいと考えています。組合員は、長期的に安定した雇用を確保し、引き続き会社と良好な関係を築いていくことを望んでおります。当方の趣旨をお汲みとりいただきますよう、何卒宜しくお願いいたします。

We understand that it is impossible to discuss all 34 demands at the first collective bargaining session. We would like to negotiate these demands with you carefully and thoroughly. Union members hope to build and maintain a positive relationship with management based on long-term job security.

2.団体交渉日時・場所・議題 CB Date, Time, Venue, Agenda

日時 2011年10月21日(金) 19:00~21:00
場所 当組合本部事務所内 Venue: Our union HQ office
     〒162-0801東京都新宿区山吹町294 小久保ビル3B
議題 下記の要求事項 Agenda: Union demands listed below.

3.要求事項 Demands

安定した雇用について   On job security…

1. Management eliminate temporary employment status for all union members, recognizing open-ended employment with no deterioration in working conditions in order to give members job security.

会社は、安定した雇用を実現するため、全組合員に対し、労働条件を悪化することなく、有期雇用の雇用形態を廃止し、期間の定めのない雇用を認める。

事前協議について  On prior consultation …

2. Management inform the local and union well in advance of any changes to working conditions, management, terms of employment or shugyo kisoku work rules. Management negotiate and obtain agreement with union and local before implementing any such changes.

会社は、組合員の従来の契約内容・労働条件を変更する場合、また就業規則を変更する場合、事前に時間的な余裕をもって組合ならびに支部に通知し、協議の上、同意を得て実施すること。

3. Management inform, negotiate with and obtain agreement from union and local before any transfers, disciplinary measures or dismissal (including all forms of employment severance against the wishes of the employee) of any union member.

会社は、組合員の人事異動、懲戒処分、解雇(本人の意思に反するあらゆる雇用終了を含む)を行う場合、事前に組合ならびに支部に通知し、協議の上、同意を得て実施すること。

4. Management inform and make a mutual arrangement with local members before visiting schools to observe classes etc. and that any such visit shall have a minimum of one month’s advance notice.

会社は、授業参観などの目的で組合員の学校へ訪問する場合、該当組合員に1カ月以上の予告をし、組合員の都合に合わせて訪問の日程を決めること。

5. Management inform the union member of their working schedule in writing at least 1 month in advance.

会社は、 各組合員に対し、1カ月以上前にスケジュールを通知すること。

6. Management obtain consent from any union member before scheduling work on weekends.

会社は、全組合員に対し、土日の勤務を組む場合、事前に該当する組合員の同意を得ること。

透明性について  On transparency …

7. Management provide union and local with Japanese language and English language versions of their shugyo kisoku official work rules.

会社は、組合員に適用される就業規則の日本語版と英語版の両方を組合ならびに支部に交付すること。

8. Management immediately disclose and explain each year’s financial documents, including profit-loss statement and balance sheet.

会社は、毎年の損益計算書、貸借対照表などの財務諸表について、速やかに組合ならびに支部
に公開し、説明すること。

9. Management immediately give to the union and local a copy of the contract between company and all school boards where members work.

会社は、会社と組合員が働いている全ての教育委員会との間に締結されている契約書の写しを組合ならびに支部に付与すること。

10. Management explain in writing to the union and local the terms of the contract (“haken” or “gyomu itaku”) for each member, and how the type of contract affects the member’s work.

会社は、会社と教育委員会との間で締結している契約(上記第7条を参照)が派遣なのか、業務委託なのかといった契約形態について、組合ならびに支部に文書で明らかにし、併せて組合員の労働環境に与える影響を説明した文書を組合ならびに支部に付与すること。

金銭要求 Financial Demands

11. Management end its policy of paying pro-rated salaries, with previously pro-rated salaries backdated fully to April 1, 2011.

会社は、賃金の比例配分をやめ、毎月全額を支給する。なお、2011年4月1日から現在までの比例配分された賃金と全額の賃金の差額を支給すること。

12. Management pay full actual transportation costs to all members.

会社は、全組合員に対し、交通費の実費を支給すること。

13. Management increase the salary of union members working at elementary schools to Y260,000 per month and of union members working at jr. high schools to Y290,000 per month.

会社は、小学校に勤務している全組合員の賃金を月260,000円に、中学校に勤務している全組合員の賃金を月290,000円に引き上げること。

14. Management put all “performance bonuses” into members’ salaries.

会社は、全組合員に対し、「皆勤手当」(”performance bonus”)を止め、その分を通常の賃金に振り替えること。

15. Management count the training days forced upon members during July as additional working days to be paid at an additional Y15,000 per day and refund full actual transportation costs.

会社は、全組合員に対し、7月に働かされる研修の日を労働日とし、日給15,000円および交通費の実費を追加に支給すること。

16. Management pay a full salary for August 2011, in addition to any accrued “bonuses” taken from members’ regular salary.

会社は、全組合員に対し、2011年8月について、他の月の未払い分を振り替えられた賃金(”bonus”)の他に、1カ月分の全額の賃金を支給すること。

17. Management pay weekend work by members at a rate of Y20,000 per day, or part thereof.

会社は、土日の労働に対し、日給20,000円または、その比例配分の賃金を支給すること。

18. Management refrain from deducting any wages from any member who participates in collective bargaining during work hours.

会社は、所定時間内に開催する団体交渉出席者の賃金カットを行なわないこと。

19. Management refund all costs for medical checks required of union members.

会社は、組合員に健康診断を義務付ける場合、その費用の全額を負担すること。

特定の組合員についての要求事項 Demands related to Individual Members

他の要求事項 Other Demands

23. Management give 10 days paid annual leave to union members who have worked for six months (12 after 18 months, etc. according to Labor Standards Law) to be used at their own discretion, and not as management dictates.

会社は、全組合員に対し、労働基準法に則り、6カ月勤続後10日間、18カ月勤続後12日間等の年次有給休暇について、本人が自由に取得できることを認めること。

24. Management use teacher evaluations only to help teachers further improve their performance and not let evaluations affect pay.

会社は、教員の評価を賃金などに一切反映させず、該当する教員の能力・技術等の改善という目的に限定すること。

25. Management change our payday from the last day of the month to the 15th of every month, to coincide with monthly payments such as rent and utilities.

会社は、給与支払日を家賃や光熱費などの支払いに合わせて、現在の翌月の月末日から翌月の15日に変更すること。

26. Management assign trainers with ALT experience to run training sessions.

会社は、研修を行うトレーナーの任命については、ALT経験を持つ人に限ること。

27. Management schedule ALT meetings only between 8:30am and 3:30pm and outside lunch breaks.

会社とALTとの面談の時間は昼の休憩時間を避け、午前8時30分から午後3時30分の間に限ること。

28. Management arrange for all union members to have lockers at their workplaces (schools).

会社は、全組合員に対し、職場である学校の中に個人用ロッカーを手配すること。

29. Management refrain from the practice of asking for original documentation, such as university degrees, etc.

会社は、大学の卒業証明書などの書類の原本を従業員に求める慣習を廃止すること。

労使の信頼関係維持について  Maintaining Relationship of Trust between Management and Union

30. Management apologize to the union and local in an email to all Borderlink employees in Japanese and English for Mr. Satoshi Okubo’s defamatory speech against unions on the second day of training (July 26, 2011).

会社は、2011年7月26日に行われた研修の第2日目にオオクボ・サトシ氏が労働組合に対し誹謗中傷的な発言をしたことについて、会社の全従業員へ、日本語と英語の両方の言葉での電子メールによって組合ならびに支部に対し謝罪をすること。

31. Management comply with all articles of all labor laws, particularly Trade Union Law, and refrain from discriminating against or harassing any union member.

会社は、労働組合法をはじめ全ての労働法規を遵守し、いかなる組合員に対する差別行為、いやがらせ行為などをしないこと。

32. Management permit a union representative be present at all members’ meetings with management.

会社は、経営側が組合員と面談をする場合、組合の代表する者の立ち会いを認めること。

33. Management permit the union and local to conduct a 30-minutes union orientation, including passing out information, at all training sessions. Management inform the union at least four weeks in advance of the date, time and venue for all such training sessions.

会社は、全ての研修会に、組合ならびに支部に、情報配布などを含めた30分のオリエンテーション(説明会)を行うことを許可すること。なお、会社は、研修を行う4週間前に、日時・場所などを組合ならびに支部に通知すること。

34. Management sign a labor-management agreement with the union and local on the above demands.

会社は、上記の要求事項に基づいて、組合ならびに支部と労働協約を締結すること。

以上

Japan’s ratio of education spending to GDP lowest among OECD nations

Japan’s expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product in 2008 remained the lowest among 31 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the organization said in a report released Tuesday.

Japan’s ratio of educational expenditure to GDP in 2008 stood at 3.3 percent, the lowest among the 31 of the OECD’s 34 members with comparable data. Japan’s ratio was also the lowest in 2005 and 2007, and the second lowest in 2004 and 2006 in the annual OECD studies.

Meanwhile, private spending on education as a proportion of total educational expenditure stood at 33.6 percent in Japan, the third highest among 28 countries with comparable data, following Chile at 41.4 percent and South Korea at 40.4 percent.

The average number of students per class at Japanese elementary schools in 2009 stood at 28.0, compared with the average of 21.4 for 25 countries with comparable data. The average class size at junior high schools was 33.0, the second largest class size among the 25 countries, following South Korea at 35.1, the OECD said.

Besides efforts by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to reduce class sizes, the OECD report pointed out that “other factors that influence the quality of education need to be taken into account,” such as improving teachers’ salaries and working conditions in Japan.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110914p2g00m0dm003000c.html

Expats in Japan face hard choices

Oregonians living in Japan like me have taken a hard look at our futures since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and the unfolding nuclear and economic crises. Radiation leaks, contaminated crops and water, plutonium released into the air and ocean, have made expats in Japan question whether to stay or head back home, especially in the face of pressure from family and loved ones.

Relatively few Americans live in Japan, fewer still from Oregon. Through work, I’ve become friends with a few Oregonians who share the same circumstances and tough choices.

I’m from Portland, 42, and live in Inuyama. I’ve been in Japan for 10 years, mostly teaching English, but also freelancing as a photographer, writer and video producer.

My two friends and I have a number of things in common. We enjoyed our lives in Oregon, but things weren’t panning out as well as we had hoped and we sought a new adventure, which America-friendly Japan provided. Living here has been a series of trade-offs, exchanging one set of headaches and concerns for different ones.

The question is, in the face of health concerns and financial hardship, is it time to trade them back again?

Stay or go?

Keary Doyle of Florence, 57, lives by himself in the rural town of Yamagata. He has been in Japan since 2000, and while he’s mulled a return home in recent years, the unemployment rate stops him. He worked as a logger and in the mills, but those jobs dried up.

“I don’t see the prospects of me going back being very economically viable,” he says.

Even though Japan’s job market is challenging as well, there are always teaching positions for native English speakers like Doyle. But going back to America expecting to teach English, especially without a college degree in education, is almost impossible. Like me, he wonders, “If I went back, what would I do for work?”

Keary lives approximately 300 miles from the reactors, a relatively safe distance, but it’s difficult to feel at ease. Simply because the nuclear crisis isn’t in the daily headlines doesn’t mean the radiation danger is any less real for those living near it.

Jeff Kreuger of Gladstone, 34, has greater reason to worry. He lives in Nagano prefecture, 200 miles from the reactors, and has a wife and 1-year-old daughter.

“A lot of family and friends were saying ‘Get out of there quick,'” he says about the beginning of the crisis. “I wanted solid information on how dangerous it was here in Nagano.”

He found a Japanese website with real-time monitoring of radiation and another showing winds blowing airborne radiation to sea.

“I haven’t found evidence yet that would lead me to think we should evacuate,” he says. “And if we did go to Oregon, how would we live? Would I be able to find a job and support my family?”

He wonders if things would pan out because when he returned to Oregon in 2004, before he was married, he only managed to get a part-time job at a coffee shop, which came without health care and other benefits.

“For me, it was a hardscrabble existence,” he says. “I was living from paycheck to paycheck,” and found it difficult to pay for rent, food, car repairs and general living expenses.

When his previous employer in Nagano wanted him back to continue teaching English at the junior high school, tempting him with a rent-free apartment, car and no taxes on his generous salary, the decision was easy. Three years later, he married his Japanese girlfriend, Miho.

Whether it’s career, love life or vacation and employment benefits, we all have far greater potential to have those things here than in Oregon, which has brought us all to the same conclusion: The relatively minimal danger here while the disaster is brought under control, compounded by the grim economic forecast, is far less risky than a permanent move back to Oregon in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, we all pine for the Northwest: the absence of sweltering summer humidity and the friendliness of everybody everywhere. Instead, we visit our loved ones and friends as often as we can.

We have to settle for the sight of the Cascade Range when flying in, the Columbia River and all those green trees and grass, and wide open spaces.

http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/08/expats_in_japan_face_hard_choi.html

U.S., British teachers help evacuees in tsunami-hit Iwate shelter

Three teachers of English from the United States and Britain have earned the thanks of evacuees at a shelter in tsunami-ravaged Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan after deciding to stay in the area to offer their help.

The three men’s relatives in their own countries suggested they leave Japan home but they chose to work at a shelter in the village of Tanohata, helping to move things and cook meals for several hundred evacuees, because they like the community.

Victor Kochaphum, 29, from the United States, was an assistant teacher of English at the elementary and junior high schools in Tanohata.

He felt the impact of the powerful March 11 earthquake shortly after having lunch in the nearby city of Miyako together with his countryman Kevin Blake, 33, and Paul Dixon, 24, from Britain. Blake and Dixon are assistant high school teachers of English in the city.

The three evacuated to a friend’s place but while watching TV news about the massive damage to the local community they felt they should do something to help people affected by the disaster.

Seiko Ogata, 60, a cooking instructor at the shelter’s kitchen, expressed her thanks for the trio’s contribution. “It is a tough job to make meals for several hundred evacuees. They are really helpful as they hold the heavy pans and pots for me.”

“Teacher Victor!” cried Ryosei Saito, 13, from the Tanohata junior high school, rushing to greet him at the shelter. “I was worried about you as I heard you had gone to Miyako. I’m glad to see you again.”

“I’m relieved to see one of my students,” Kochaphum said.

It is not known when the schools will start again. Blake said in fluent Japanese, “The community is firm and the whole town is like a family. I want to stay here and am ready to do my utmost to help people.”

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110321p2g00m0dm064000c.html

Japan launches primary push to teach English

Compulsory foreign language lessons start next month for all 10- to 12-year-olds, raising hopes among educators and industry leaders of ending a decades-long ‘English deficit’

With just weeks to go before English becomes a compulsory subject at Japan’s primary schools, doubts surround the boldest attempt in decades to improve the country’s language skills, and its ability to compete overseas with rival Asian economies.

The new curriculum is to be introduced after intense lobbying from the business community, amid fears that Japan’s competitive edge could be blunted unless it takes English communication as seriously as China and South Korea.

The new classes, which start in April, will be aimed at fifth- and sixth-grade pupils, aged 10-12, at all of Japan’s public primary schools. The lessons will be held only once a week – or 35 times a year – with each lasting 45 minutes.

By the time they leave primary school, children should know 285 English words and 50 expressions, although the education ministry is reluctant to talk of targets.

Hiroshi Noguchi, of the ministry’s international education section, said the main purpose was to ease the transition from primary to junior high school, where English has long been compulsory, and to expose young children to other cultures.

“We don’t have any specific targets,” he said. “The schools have been given the choice of how to structure their lessons and set their own targets. We believe children will leave knowing the basic expressions that will help them on their way with English learning.”

The long-term aim is to improve Japan’s lowly position in the international English proficiency standings: despite studying English for six years from the age of 12, Japanese students have among the lowest scores in Asia in the international Toefl test of English.

But many of Japan’s 400,000 primary school teachers say they are ill-equipped for their new role as language instructors. In a recent survey, 77% said they needed to improve their language skills, while a similar percentage said they required more training.

“I’ve visited lots of schools and met teachers who are worried and lacking in confidence,” says Yuri Kuno, a visiting professor at Chubu Gakuin University, who has been lobbying education authorities to introduce English tuition at an early age since the 1970s.

“The trainers are themselves not trained and most of them have no experience of teaching at primary schools.”

Primary school children have been given occasional foreign-language instruction since 2002, but South Korea made English compulsory at that level in 1997, and China in 2005. Japanese sixth-graders have, until now, received an average of 13.5 hours of English tuition a year, far fewer than their Chinese and South Korean counterparts.

Ideally, Japanese teachers will work alongside assistant language teachers from English-speaking countries.

Sarah Doherty, an ALT in Sendai, northern Japan, who has taught primary school pupils as young as seven, says she has had a positive response from the children and their parents. But she is concerned that the optional use of a new ministry textbook, Eigo Nooto [English Notebook], could take the enjoyment out of learning, particularly when Japanese teachers are left alone.

“There’s a risk that English will end up being taught like any other subject,” she said. “So I worry that the fun part will disappear. And a lot of Japanese teachers haven’t been trained properly and are shy about using English in front of the class. I worry that the kids will be shy, too.”

But the change has been welcomed by the Japan Business Federation, which says more companies complain of a dearth of English-speaking graduates. Many cannot afford to teach them in-house, hindering their ability to expand overseas as the domestic market shrinks.

The federation’s chairman, Hiromasa Yonekura, said: “It is extremely important to foster global human resources, as it is technology and international trade that have supported Japan, which has limited natural resources.”

The experience among older pupils does not bode well for the primary school scheme. In a recent report, only 20% of English teachers at public high schools taught oral communication in the target language, even though the education ministry has set a goal of 100% English usage by 2013.

“My major concerns are about the instructors who teach children,” says Kumiko Torikai a professor at the graduate school of intercultural communication at Rikkyo University. “They are elementary school teachers who teach different subjects, but they are not professionals in English language teaching.”

She accused education authorities of “wishful thinking” for believing that the new lessons would result in a marked improvement in practical language skills. “Singing English songs and repeating simple words in English for an hour once a week will not be enough to equip students with proficiency in English,” she said.

There are concerns, too, about the quality of assistant language teachers, more of whom will be needed to teach alongside Japanese colleagues.

“The trend nowadays, after the era of JET [the government sponsored exchange programme for teaching assistants], is for school boards to hire native speakers from private agencies, which charge lower prices,” said Torikai. “If you are not ready to devote a budget to teachers, you cannot expect to have qualified and committed instructors.”

The programme also faces criticism from traditionalists who claim that primary school children are too young to acquire a second language before they have mastered their own.

Noguchi disagrees. “As part of the overhaul, Japanese lesson hours will also be increased, and we believe children are quite capable of studying both languages,” he said. “That is our message: that Japanese is important, too.”

The fact that debate is taking place at all is proof of Japan’s inward-looking nature, Kuno said. “The idea that their proficiency in their mother tongue will suffer is something you hear only in Japan. Can you imagine people saying that in the US or Britain? The problem is that we have no experience of exposure to foreign languages. We take it for granted that everyone else speaks Japanese.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/mar/08/japan-launches-primary-english-push

Byzantine temp rules need permanent fix

Who tells workers what to do, therefore, is a critical starting point for a great deal of Japanese employment law and regulation.

Imagine you are in a fast-food restaurant ordering a hamburger. So long as you are just looking to pay ¥500 for a hamburger and a side of fries, you are a client and the restaurant is a provider of goods (the hamburger) and services (food preparation).

Read more