Tozen Gaba Workers Union in Dispute with Gaba 全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオンGABA労働組合はGABAに対して労働紛争

The Tozen GABA Workers Union is officially in dispute with the company over it’s unfair disciplinary action (不当懲戒処分) against Local Executive President Tyler Christensen.

We are fighting for the right to work unpaid overtime.

Say what?

Yes, we are fighting for the right to work unpaid overtime without facing discipline from the company.

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Teachers tread water in eikaiwa limbo

Jan 22nd, 2014
Illustration  by  TIM O'BREE
Illustration by TIM O’BREE

Every year, thousands of young native English-speakers fly to Asia in search of an adventure, financed by working as English teachers. They come from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

But it can be risky leaping into another country on the promise of an “easy” job. In Japan’s competitive English teaching market, foreign language instructors are treading water. “Subcontractor” teachers at corporate giant Gaba fight in the courts to be recognized as employees. Berlitz instructors become embroiled in a four-year industrial dispute, complete with strikes and legal action. Known locally as eikaiwa, “conversation schools” across the country have slashed benefits and reduced wages, forcing teachers to work longer hours, split-shifts and multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

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Tozen Gaba Local President Tyler Christensen Under Fire

Tozen Gaba Local President Tyler Christensen has recently been disciplined with a warning letter by Gaba for staying at the office too late.  Tyler is a model Gaba instructor.  He is hard at work every day providing excellent lessons, even putting in unpaid overtime to keep his clients happy and the company well informed of their progress. 

He apparently works TOO hard.  

At our last CB on November 14th, the company pretended that a disciplinary letter was not really discipline, despite the fact that they threatened his future contract renewals in the letter.   

Our union is standing up for fairness at Gaba, but we need your help.  Join our campaign to improve working conditions at Gaba.  Contact us at for more information.

Tozen Gaba Local Wins Labor Management Agreements with Gaba

This summer the Tozen Gaba Local took three steps forward in our campaign to improve working conditions at Gaba. 

We signed an agreement to raise wages.

We signed an agreement guaranteeing the right of instructors to change their home LS at any time without interference or discrimination from the company.

We signed an agreement to receive a twice yearly financial transparency document detailing revenue, profit, and number of clients for the company.

There’s More Work to Do 

Gaba instructors are making progress, but we have a great deal more to win.  The majority of our 2013 yearly demands remain unresolved.  Gaba management says that they share our goal of improving working conditions for Gaba instructors.  We can hold them to that commitment and win improvements such as job security, fair compensation for R-Slots, and a reasonable sick leave policy.  We need your help.  Join our union. 

For more information e-mail

2013 Shunto Demands2013年春闘要求事項

安定した雇用について On Job Security


1 会社は、全組合員の安定した雇用を実現するため、労働条件を悪化することなく、契約を自動更新すること。


The company automatically extend contracts without degrading working conditions in order to establish job security.


2 会社は、全員の講師が契約を途中で解除する自由を認めるとともに、その自由が存することを全講師に周知すること。

The company recognize and notify instructors of the right to terminate the contract at any time.


3 会社は、第1項及び第2項に基づいて、組合並びに支部と「安定雇用労働協約」を締結すること。

The company conclude with the union and local a “Job Security Labor-Management Agreement” based on demands #1 and #2.


事前協議について On Jizen Kyogi (Prior Consultation)


4 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契約終了を含む)を行う場合、事前に組合並びに支部に通知し、協議の上、同意を得て実施すること。


The company inform, negotiate with and obtain agreement from union and local before any transfers, disciplinary measures or dismissal of any union member; including all forms of severance against the wishes of the union member.


5 会社は、第4項に基づいて、組合並びに支部と「事前協議労働協約」を締結すること。


The company conclude with the union and local a “Jizen Kyogi Labor-Management Agreement” based on demand #4.


便宜供与について On Bengi Kyoyo (Use of Facilities)


6 会社は、会社施設内での組合の相互連絡、ニュース・ビラの配布、会議室使用などの組合活動を許可すること。また、各ラーニングスタジオの休憩室と本社において、組合業務のための掲示板をーつ貸与すること。

The company permit the distribution of flyers, newsletters and other union correspondence on company premises as well as the use of company meeting rooms for union activities. Further, the company provide one bulletin board in the break room of each LS and one at headquarters for the use of the union.


7 会社は、イニシャル・サーティフィケーション及びベルト・アップ・サーティフィケーションという研修への組合代表者の立ち会いを許可し、同研修を受けている講師らに対し、労働組合に関する情報提供並びに質疑応答のための時間として15分を確保すること。

The company permit union representatives to attend Initial Certification and Build Up Certification training to make a fifteen-minute presentation and answer questions about the union.


8 会社は、第6項及び第7項に基づいて、組合並びに支部と「便宜供与労働協約」を締結すること。

The company conclude with the union and local a “Bengi Kyoyo Labor-Management Agreement” based on demands #6, and #7.


透明性について On Transparency


9 会社は、毎年の損益計算書、貸借対照表などの財務諸表、経営方針、重要事項(主要資産の処分・購入、役員の変更など)の情報について、速やかに組合並びに支部に公開し、内容の説明をすること。


The company immediately disclose and explain to union and local each year’s financial documents, including profit-loss statement and balance sheet; as well as management policy, important actions such as purchase or sale of assets, changes in executive board and the like.


10 会社は、組合員の働き方と振る舞いについての評価を行う際、使用されている基準を明確にする文書の日本語版と英語版の両方を、組合並びに支部に交付すること。なお、会社は、講師と社員が順守しなければならない、授業提供についての規定の日本語版と英語版の両方を、組合並びに支部に交付すること。

The company provide union and local with Japanese language and English language versions of the standards it uses when evaluating instructor performance and conduct, as well as policies pertaining to the provision of lessons that staff and instructors must follow.


11 会社は、講師の働き方と振る舞いについて記録されている、各組合員の「My Schedule for Instructors」というファイルを組合並びに支部に交付すること。


The company provide union and local with a written copy of the complete contents of each union member’s My Schedule for Instructors file, including all comments written by Gaba staff pertaining to evaluation of performance and conduct.


12 会社は、第9項及~11項に基づいて、組合並びに支部と「透明性労働協約」を締結すること。


The company conclude with the union and local a “Transparency Labor-Management Agreement” based on demands #9-11.


働く環境について On Working Environment


13 会社は、レッスンの前日の18:00以降にレッスンをキャンセルされた場合、レッスン料の全額を支払うこと。また、キャンセルの後、講師はキャンセルされたレッスンの時間帯に、新たに別の生徒にレッスンをした場合、会社は、新たに発生したレッスンの料金も支払うこと。


The company, if a lesson is canceled after 6:00pm the night before it is scheduled to be taught, provide the instructor full compensation for the lesson. If the instructor then teaches a different client during the same time slot, the company pay the instructor for both lessons.


14 会社は、労働協約の締結日から6ヶ月以内に、講師がオンラインで簡単にレッスン時間帯を「クローズ」することができるよう、マイ Gaba フォア・インストラクターズというホームページを修正すること。

The company, within six months of signing the agreement, adapt My Gaba For Instructors to enable instructors to close lessons online at any time.


15 会社は、目立たない限り、耳以外のピアスを許可すること。また、女性と同様に男性のピアスを許可すること。また、クールビズの時期のみならず、年中通じてネクタイの着用を講師の裁量に委ねること。

The company amend its dress code as follows: the company permit piercings other than in the ear provided they are understated; the company permit men the equal right to piercings as women; and the company permit instructors to regard neckties as optional year-round.


16 会社は、年に6日間の無給の病気休暇を認めること。また、会社は体調不良の講師に対して出勤するよう圧力をかけたり、医師の診断書を求めたりしないこと。なお会社は、開校前に病欠の連絡ができる方法を工夫すること。それから会社は、病欠した講師に対して、契約更新やベルトなどにおいて一切の不利益取り扱いをしないこと。

The company give instructors 6 days per year in which they can call in sick. The company not pressure sick instructors to teach lessons while sick. The company not request doctors’ notes or other proof of sickness. The company provide instructors a means to call-in sick prior to the opening of the LS. There be no repercussions in terms of contract renewal or belting.


17 会社は、組合員と経営者がそれぞれ同数で構成される苦情処理委員会を結成すること。

The company establish a grievance committee, half of the members of which being union members and half of which being appointed by management.


18 会社は、イニシャル・サーティフィケーションという研修が完成次第、3ヶ月ごとにホームラーニングスタジオをどこにするかを決める自由を認めること。会社は講師のホームラーニングスタジオにおいて、ブースが空いてる限り、講師が提出したスケジュールを承認すること。なお、会社は、スケジュールを組む際には、非組合員より組合員を、勤続年数の短い講師より勤続年数の長い講師を優先すること。

The company grant instructors the freedom to determine their home LS upon completion of initial certification and once every three months thereafter. The company accept any schedule submitted by an instructor for their home LS contingent on booth availability, giving priority to union instructors according to seniority.


19 会社は、FM、FL、LPA、レッド、ブラック、そして顧客に依頼されないグリーンという予約について、非組合員より組合員を、勤続年数の短い講師より勤続年数の長い講師を優先して振り当てること。


The company allocate red and black bookings, FMs, FLs, LPAs and green bookings not requested by the client to available union members based on seniority.

20 会社は、該当するラーニングスタジオにおいて、予約の入らないコマの割合が、3ヶ月間で10%以下にならない限りにおいて、新たな講師を同ラーニングスタジオに配置しないこと。なお、講師を配置する場合には、ブース数に対する講師の数の割合を10対1以下とすること。


The company not assign any new instructors to any LS until the average number of unbooked lesson slots over a three-month period falls below 10% for that LS. In that case, one instructor may be assigned for every ten booths, rounded to the nearest ten.


21 会社は、上記の条項(第12項~第19項)に基づいて、組合並びに支部と「労働環境の労働協約」を締結すること。

The company conclude with the union and local a “Working Environment Labor-Management Agreement” based on demands #12-19.


Tokyo Area GABA workers unionize


東京都渋谷区元代々木町 30-13 グラスシティ元代々木 4F
03-5790-7000 (TEL)
03-5790-7145 (FAX)
株式会社 GABA
代表取締役社長 増田崇之殿
GABA Corporation President Takayuki Masuda

執行委員長 ルイス・カーレット 全
国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン GABA 労働組合
執行委員長 ジェイソン・コームス
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union
President Louis Carlet
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union
GABA Workers Union
President Jason Combs

Notice of Union Formation and Demand for Collective Bargaining

拝啓 秋冷の候、貴社におかれましてはますますご盛栄のこととお喜び申し上げます。
We hope your business is doing well this autumn.

私たちは、貴社に勤務する下記の講師が、全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン(以下、「組合」と いう)の下に全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン GABA 労働組合(以下、「支部」という)という支 部組合を結成したことを通知いたします。貴社は本日より、組合員の雇用・労働条件並びにその他 労働条件に関連する事項について、当組合並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 notify you that the instructors below have formed the Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union GABA Workers Union (hereafter, “local”) under the Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (hereafter, “union”). We ask that management negotiate in good faith during collective bargaining regarding members’ employment and working conditions as well as other matters related to working conditions.

当組合並びに支部は、良好なる労使関係を確立するために誠意を持って交渉に臨む所存です。それ故、 貴社は不当労働行為など行うことなく、速やかに当組合並びに支部との団体交渉に応じられるよう要請いた 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であることを念のた めに申し添えておきます。
In order to create good labor-management relations, our union intends to negotiate in good faith. We call on the company to respond promptly to our request for collective bargaining so as not to commit an unfair labor practice under labor law. We remind the company that declining a request for collective bargaining is a violation of Article 7 of Trade Union Law.

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Gaba ‘contractor’ status under fire from staff, courts

Yet after stepping off the tarmac at Narita in August this year, William’s new life in Japan began to turn into something of a nightmare, and the source of the trouble was his new job working for Gaba as an English teacher.

According to William, his troubles began back home in the States when he was interviewed for a teaching position at Gaba by webcam.

“They told me I would be legally required to teach 160 lessons per month for visa sponsorship at a rate of ¥1,500 per lesson. But that didn’t happen.”

William says that rather than the 40 lessons he was promised, he averaged only around 25 — 30 on a good week, and sometimes as low as 10. “This was a source of conflict between myself and my management,” he says.

Despite the fact he was teaching what amounted to a part-time schedule, he had to be in the workplace 40 hours a week or more.

“I would be sitting around in a booth — they would call it a booth, but I would call it essentially a prison cell — and you are expected to sit there until something falls off the cart,” he says.

Gaba teachers are only paid for lessons taught, so the additional time William spent at the studio waiting for lessons was unpaid, yet the company, he says, expected him to be there at all times.

“Once I was verbally disciplined for going out to get lunch. I was verbally warned by my supervisor. . . . He said, ‘You need to be preparing your lesson notes and you need to look to the client like you are doing work and not going out and getting lunch. ‘ And I said, ‘OK, but on the other hand, I am a human being and I need to eat, and I am not being paid for this time so you don’t have the right to tell me that.’ “

Gaba is the only large eikaiwa chain in Japan that doesn’t pay travel costs to teachers commuting to training or work, so attending training would not only have cut into William’s teaching hours, it would actually have cost him money.

William refused to do any further training, and this put him at odds with his supervisors at Gaba, a situation that was exacerbated when he took two days off work.

“I had to go to the hospital because I literally couldn’t talk and found out I had a throat infection,” explains William. “They made me meet with the regional manager and told me not to miss any more days. They told me they were going to reduce my schedule as punishment.”

As an overseas recruit, Gaba was also the sponsor of William’s working visa, which made him feel particularly insecure.

“I felt very depressed, anxious, uncertain about what I was going to do. I was afraid I would have to go home. At this time I wasn’t making enough money monthly to pay anything more than pay my rent — I was losing money,” he recalls. “One day I went in for 8½ hours and I actually lost money going to work because none of my lessons booked. I figured out later on that this had something to do with the fact they had deleted my schedule from the client view of the instructors on their website.”

A complaint sometimes leveled by former Gaba instructors is that their learning studio manager or supervisor reduced their teaching schedule, and thus income, in order to discipline or control them.

In the Gaba employment contract that all teachers working in nonmanagerial roles sign, it states that “All instructors at Gaba teach under an Itaku, or entrusted, contract. The terms of this kind of system are different from employment. Entrusted instructors are essentially independent contractors that have been contracted to provide an established service, namely English instruction.”

In addition, many teachers also sign an “Entrusted Contract Awareness” document, which says: “Itaku contractors are not committed to fixed working hours as salaried employees are. We do not assign set work schedules but rely on instructors to inform us when they are available. Although we offer flexible scheduling, our peak times of operation are early weekday mornings, weekday evenings and all days weekends.”

Despite the fact that official company policy states they offer “flexible scheduling,” stories such as Herve’s and William’s suggest that, at least in some cases, pressure is put on instructors to choose shifts that fit the needs of the company alone.

Gaba teachers have even less freedom, despite their status as itaku contractors, with regards to dress.

Gaba was recently purchased by Japanese medical services company Nichii Gakkan for ¥10 billion. Earlier this month Canadian Bruce Anderson replaced Kenji Kamiyama as CEO of Gaba.

Fear for jobs ignites “English crisis” in Japan

It’s eight in the morning in a Tokyo office building, and a dozen middle-aged Japanese businessmen sit inside small booths, sweating as they try to talk English to the instructors in front of them.

“I hope my wife will understand my hobby,” one 40-something man says, opening his mouth widely around the English words.

He is one of legions of Japanese businessmen, or “salarymen,” struggling with a language they thought they had left behind them in school as fears mount that the growing push by Japanese companies into overseas business will mean a dark future for them without usable English.

This is especially true these days, with the strong yen and a lagging domestic market prompting more firms to look overseas for business opportunities essential for their bottom lines.

“I had a business trip to Amsterdam last year and that really was tough. My boss spoke no English, and I had to speak English for the first time in 10 years,” said Masahide Tachibana, a 39-year-old software developer.

Tachibana now gets up at 5:00 a.m. to take morning lessons at a central Tokyo branch of Gaba, an English language school.

“I’ve always wanted to brush up my English and that business trip ignited my aspirations,” said Tachibana, as around him other businessmen and women pack up and hurry to work after their 45-minute, one-on-one lessons.

Japan, despite being the world’s third-largest economy and a major export powerhouse, is known for its poor English-speaking ability even though six years of study are required in middle and high school.

The country’s average score on the TOEFL iBT, a computer-based test of English as a foreign language, in 2010 ranked 27th among 30 Asian countries, below Mongolia and Turkmenistan.

Only 9 percent of 1,156 white-collar workers surveyed by Recruit Agent, a recruiting firm, claim to be able to communicate in English. Many respondents evaluated their speaking and listening aptitude as “Barely.”

But things are starting to change, prompted by a growing sense of urgency about employment.


The first push came from online retailer Rakuten’s 2010 decision to make English their official language. Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo apparel chain, also wants to make English its official language by 2012 and test its employees for proficiency.

“Rakuten’s decision triggered a shock-wave that’s extended to many other companies, especially manufacturers, because they too are under pressure to expand outside a shrinking home market,” said Yuriko Tsurumaki, a Recruit Agent spokeswoman.

“Not all Japanese firms have businesses overseas for the time being but people are seeing possibilities and sharing a sense of crisis (about English).”

Now nearly half of Japanese companies planning new hiring require applicants to be “business English users” – a big rise from 16 percent in July 2009, she said.

Highlighting fears among businessmen with poor English, a number of companies, including chip maker Elpida Memory and Murata Manufacturing Co, a maker of parts used in mobile phones and computers, are shifting some production outside Japan to cope with a currency near record highs.

The surging yen is also encouraging Japanese firms to acquire businesses overseas to build more revenue pillars, with trading house Itochu buying Britain’s tire seller Kwik Fit for $1 billion.

As a result, Japan’s foreign language education market is growing, with learners more than willing to fork out plenty of money on lessons, DVDs or e-learning.

It rose 1.6 percent to $9.8 billion in 2010 from a year earlier, said Yano Institute of Research, and is set to grow another 1.8 percent this year, making it a rare bright spot amid lagging Japanese private consumption.

“This is just the start of Japan’s real globalization. Everyone is feeling that they’ll see a no-English-no-job situation,” Gaba‘s president Kenji Kamiyama told Reuters in a recent interview.

Thanks to avid English learners, Gaba says it has almost achieved its student number target for the year and predicts the upbeat trend will likely last for a while. Gaba says that on average, a student spends about 50,000 yen ($654) a month — against an average 36,500 yen allowance for Japanese businesspeople.

“The English crisis shows the rapidly changing environment Japanese firms face. Most Japanese businessmen, for a long time, avoided an English-speaking environment,” Gaba’s Kamiyama said.

“But they now know that they can’t stay that way… It’s been a real kick in the pants for them.”

Nichii Gakkan Company to Launch Takeover Bid for Shares of Gaba Corporation

Nichii Gakkan Company announced that it has decided to launch a takeover bid for shares of Gaba Corporation. Nichii Gakkan Company intends to purchase 50,497 shares of Gaba Corporation at the price of JPY 200,000 per share during the period from August 8, 2011 to September 21, 2011. If Nichii Gakkan Company purchased as many shares of Gaba Corporation, it will hold 100% voting rights in Gaba Corporation. However, if Nichii Gakkan Company were not able to purchase at least 26,390 shares of Corporation, the takeover bid will be cancelled. Based on the result of the takeover bid, Gaba Corporation may be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Nichii Gakkan To Launch Tender Offer For Gaba

Nichii Gakkan Co. said Friday it will begin a tender offer to purchase shares of Gaba Corp., an operator of English-language conversation classes, in a move to bolster its education business.

Nichii plans to spend up to 10 billion yen to make Gaba a wholly owned subsidiary.

The offer price is 200,000 yen per share, a 53% premium over Friday’s close.

Gaba operates classes at 36 locations in the nation’s three major metropolitan areas. The bulk of its students are corporate employees. The firm posted 7.75 billion yen in sales and 596 million yen in net profit for the year ended December 2010.

Even though [Nichii’s] offerings have expanded beyond its mainstay preparatory courses for medical and nursing licenses, it is still struggling. The firm expects the Gaba brand to help it win contracts for corporate English training and to expand its online offerings.