Tozen Union Scores Paid Leave Win Over JCFL

Tozen Union members Todd, Tim, and Mark won a crucial court victory Friday over Japan College of Foreign Languages (Bunsai Gakuen). The school had denied paid leave to the teachers who work on zero-hour contracts, claiming that intervals between the one-semester contracts disrupt the continuity of their employment and therefore preclude any right to paid leave.

Tokyo District Court ruled that their employment is effectively continuous enough to claim the legal minimum allotment of paid holidays. The court ordered JCFL to pay for the paid leave already taken, plus interest, and to put up 1% of the plaintiffs’ legal costs.

Management has taken a hard line against Tozen Union and JCFL Workers’ Union in collective bargaining and is expected to appeal to Tokyo High Court. The union members lost a claim that the school’s refusal to give a copy of its work rules constituted power harassment.

東ゼン労組JCFL(日本外国語専門学校)支部組合員であるトッド、ティム、マークは、学校法人文際学園 日本外国語専門学校(JCFL)を相手に、自らの有給休暇の権利を求め、裁判の場で闘ってきましたが、2018112日、東京地方裁判所は、原告勝訴の判決を下しました。なお、本件では、組合員に対して就業規則の付与を拒絶し、その場で書き写すことのみ許可するという対応がパワーハラスメントであるという主張もしましたが、こちらは認められませんでした。

 

学校法人文際学園は、講師の契約を1セメスター=5か月と設定し、契約と契約の間の期間を2か月空けることにより、契約は継続性を持たず、したがって、すべての講師には有給休暇の権利は一切発生しないという扱いをしてきました。16年勤続の組合員も、これまで有給は「ゼロ」だったのです。本判決では、たとえ契約と契約との間に2か月のインターバルがあったとしても、契約の継続性は認められると判断したのであり、大変重要な内容を含んでいます。同じような働き方をしている人たちにも、大きな影響を及ぼすものと思われます。

 

学園はこれまでと同様、控訴して徹底抗戦するでしょう。私たちも、団結の力を緩めることなく、これからも組合を挙げて闘い続けてまいります。

 

引き続き、みなさまの心強いご支援、ご指導を、どうぞ宜しくお願い申し上げます。

Tokyo court rulings chip away at labor unions’ right to free speech

The Tokyo District Court handed down its verdict in the Fujibi case last February, with the Tokyo High Court upholding it in July. On both occasions, I couldn’t believe my ears. The courts ruled that labor union Zenrokyo Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo Rodo Kumiai (Tokyo Roso) had committed defamation and damaged the creditworthiness of Fujibi, a medium-size artwork printing company.

Articles 1.2 and 8 of Trade Union Law explicitly exempt labor unions from civil and criminal liability when conducting legitimate labor union activities. This has been broadly interpreted thus far to give unions extraordinary leeway to dish out harsh criticism of their employers, whereas normally such public criticism would constitute illegal (possibly criminal) defamation (meiyo kison) or obstruction of business (gyōmu bōgai). Consumer boycotts are illegal (possibly criminal), whereas strikes by workers are protected by the Constitution, even if they hurt the business.

So these courts ruled that Tokyo Roso’s actions were not legitimate union activities. What were the actions and what led to these verdicts?

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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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SKYPICSSTUDIO | ISTOCK

A week’s worth of questions about paid leave

Paid leave. The long form in Japanese is nenji yūkyū kyūka; the short form is yūkyū. For workers, yūkyū is a day of “complete liberation from toil,” as one scholar put it.

The right to rest fully is vital in ensuring that workers enjoy long, healthy and anxiety-free lives. Unfortunately, some employers do all they can to discourage their employees from actually taking paid leave, setting up artificial obstacles, insinuating they are lazy and using peer pressure to keep them at their work stations.

I myself teach at a university, and many of my members at Tozen Union are also teachers. I find that teachers in particular find it very difficult to freely take paid leave, and many more are unaware of the government’s guarantee of paid leave. Foreign teachers in particular may be unfamiliar with the law.

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Tozen Union Wins Berlitz Pension Suit, but …

June 17th, 2016 1:25 PM
Tokyo District Court on Friday overturned Japan’s Pension Agency’s 2011 decision rejecting Tozen member Yancey Co’s appeal to enroll in Japan’s shakai hoken health and pension scheme.

Co’s employer Berlitz Japan had kicked him off shakai hoken in 2008, after his work hours apparently fell below 30 hours per week in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The 30-hour, or 3/4 of a full timer, threshold can be found nowhere in labor law but rather in the agency’s internal memo dated June 6, 1980.

The English language instructor from Vancouver, Canada, had asked the agency to force Berlitz to enroll him but through three appeals the agency ruled against him.

Undeterred, Co sued the agency in January 2012. “I wanted part-timers to have the right to enroll.”image

After four and a half years of litigation, Tozen Union sees the Friday victory as a partial victory only.

“We insisted that the memo has no legal force and should not be used to kick someone off shakai hoken,” said Louis Carlet, an executive of Tozen Union. “We were hoping the court would declare the memo illegal. Unfortunately the judge didn’t go that far.”

Tozen Attorney Shoichi Ibuski said, “This is one step forward and we hope to use this to go further still.”

(See video presentation below.)

English:

Japanese:

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Legal change will make temp purgatory permanent for many Japanese workers

Eight years ago, a TV drama about temporary workers generated a great deal of excitement around Japan. In “Haken no Hinkaku” (“Dignity of a Temp”), model-actress-singer Ryoko Shinohara played Haruko Omae, a “super-temp” who masterfully tackled the myriad troubles that arose in her ¥3,000-an-hour job. Unshakable, aloof and playing by her own rules, she performed better than any of the regular employees, refused all overtime and off-the-clock socialization, and shunned flattery and fake smiles to boot.

Unfortunately, the drama did not reflect reality. In real life, critics said, such a temp worker (haken shain) would have been fired on the spot, and regardless of skill level, temp workers tend to be seen as outsiders and are treated worse than regular workers.

On Wednesday, recent revisions to the Worker Dispatch Law go into effect. There was chaotic debate in the Diet over this bill, just as there was with the security bills, but in the end the ruling coalition dealt with it in the same way as it has other unpopular measures: by pushing it through with their majority in both chambers.

Let’s look at the details of the changes.

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Osaka’s General Union lands major court victory on Shakai Hoken

GU court victory against gov’t over insurance to have major impact

On 20 March at 13:25, the Tokyo District Court ruled on the case of a General Union member who sued the Japanese government in an important test case regarding eligibility for enrollment in the Employees Health and Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).
Read more at the GU website here.

Standing up to the country’s flagship carrier

Credibility of justice system in spotlight as highest court to make ruling on JAL layoffs
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI

Kuala Lumpur, 1977. The rain came down in torrents. The control tower instructed pilots to circle the airport pending better weather. The pilots had the option to divert to a nearby airport where things were quieter. Japan Airlines (JAL) was pushing its employees to cut costs, and the pilot of JAL’s DC8-60 decided not to divert and to circle until the rain let up.

But the rain did not yield. The DC8-60 ran low on fuel and was forced to land come what may. Eight of the 10 crew and 26 of 29 passengers perished in the ensuing crash. This tragedy would inspire one JAL employee, Taeko Uchida, to get serious about union activism in a way that would decades later find her leading a legal and labor battle against Japan’s flagship carrier.

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職場には、民主的な従業員代表が必要だ!

先週、ある人から、以下のような相談を受けた。仮にAさんとしておこう。

「私はいま、東京に本社がある○○というコンサルティング会社で働いていて、もうすぐ3年になります。実は昨日、突然人事部から全社員にメールが来て、『〇〇社の従業員代表について信任投票を行います。従業員代表は、就業規則変更などの際に、従業員を代表して会社に意見を伝えていただくことになります。このたび〇〇社の従業員代表として、△△さんが推薦され、ご本人からもその候補者になる旨の申し出をいただきました。

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