According to the language school chain’s instructor contract, foreign employees are forbidden to “participate in any interaction with the clients of the employer outside the place of employment.” In theory, insist Nova instructors, they are under threat of the sack for so much as a chance encounter with any of the company’s 450,000 students.
“The largest eikaiwa school has a staff turnover of 70 percent a year,” says Dennis Tesolat, vice-chair of the General Union, which represents hundreds of teachers in Japan.
“They have guys whose job is it to go to the airports just to pick up new teachers. And that’s because the teachers have a grueling schedule of eight lessons a day, with a 10-minute break between each. It’s worse than a factory.”