Abe walks a tightrope on Japan’s foreign worker policy

The number of foreign nationals working in Japan reached its highest-ever level in October 2017 at 1,278,670, according to a study by the labor ministry (bit.ly/mhlwhoudou). The foreign proportion of the population remains tiny compared to that in European countries or North America, yet the impact of the growing ranks of foreign workers is considerable in Japan, where the myth of ethnic homogeneity stubbornly persists (despite the existence of minorities, such as the Ainu and Okinawan people). What is this impact?

Well, that depends on the type of citizen being impacted upon. Let’s divide the citizenry into three broad categories based on their basic attitude toward foreign residents in general.

Read more

中労委は、組合妨害阻止命令を支持

中央労働委員会は、2018年3月29日(木)に、東ゼン労組が文際学園を相手に不当労働行為の救済を申し立てた件について、東京都労働委員会の命令を支持するという判断を下した。
東ゼン労組は、2013年に同学園が組合活動である情宣活動を妨害したと、主張して東京都労働委員会に不当労働行為の救済を申し立てた。それに対して、都労委は2016年1月に、文際学園に妨害を阻止し、組合に謝罪するよう命令した。
しかし、都労委は、もうひとつの不当労働行為(組合活動の理由により、ある組合員が解雇された問題)の救済を棄却した。
しかし、妨害の件に関しては、文際学園は、中労委に不服を申し立て、組合側は、解雇問題に関して不服を申し立てた。中労委は、木曜日にどちらの不服を棄却した。

National Labor Board Upholds Ruling Against JCFL

Victory!

The Central Labor Relations Commission ruled on Thursday March 29th that Japan College of Foreign Languages (JCFL, a division of Bunsai Gakuen) had illegally interfered with Tozen Union’s leafleting actions in front of the school.

Tozen Union and its JCFL Local argued that management interfered with legitimate union activity by sending employees out to block the union from passing out leaflets at two separate leafletings in 2013.

In January of 2016, Tokyo Labor Relations commission ruled in favor of the union’s petition, ordering management to cease all such interference and to post a large sign apologizing to the union at the workplace for ten days.  Management immediately appealed.  That appeal was formally rejected on Thursday.

The victory was thanks to the relentless struggle of the local.

Lessons on life, love and compassionate leave from a silly old bunny

This month I will explore compassionate leave — called kibiki kyūka in Japanese — the days you take off after losing a close family member. I chose this topic because I recently suffered a string of painful losses. Please bear with me as I relate to you what has happened to my loved ones over the past couple months.

Do you remember my granny bunny? I told you about her and the need for pet loss leave exactly a year ago in my February 2017 column, “Japanese need to take more leave, starting with when beloved pets pass.” Readers from around the world wrote to me in response to that article, empathizing, expressing warm wishes, like “I wish I could have taken off work after I lost my hamster” and “I feel such sadness when I remember my cat’s death.”

Read more

Court cases shine a light on Japan’s problem with paternity leave

BY 

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Japanese government wants to raise the number of fathers taking paternity leave from 2016’s 3 percent to 13 percent by 2020, but two recent court cases show how hard it can be for some fathers to take their legally mandated paternity leave — especially if difficult pregnancies complicate the situation before the child is born.

On paper, mothers and fathers are entitled to take child care leave (ikuji kyūka) at the same time for up to a year and receive two-thirds salary for the first six months and half salary for the second six months. However, eligibility depends on having worked for your current employer at least a year and expecting to be employed a year later.

Read more

外国人にも無期転換逃れ? 仏政府公式「日仏学院」やベネッセ子会社で労使紛争

今年4月から適用がスタートする「無期転換ルール」。契約が反復更新され、通算5年を超えた場合、労働者は希望すれば、有期雇用から期間の定めのない労働契約(無期雇用)に転換できるというものだ(労働契約法)。

人手不足を背景に、前倒しして実施する企業もある一方、無期転換逃れをはかる使用者もあり、労使の攻防が続いている。問題に直面しているのは、日本で働く外国人労働者も例外ではない。

●「サイマル国際」グループ会社に事業譲渡、教員100人超が解雇

通訳や語学研修などを行なう「サイマル・インターナショナル」の外国人講師100人超は2017年11月、突然、2018年3月末までの解雇や契約終了を通知されたという。勤続10年以上の人もおり、「無期転換権」を取得できたはずの人が多く含まれていた。

理由は、会社の事業譲渡。講師たちがいるサイマルの部署を閉鎖し、別の会社「ベルリッツ・ジャパン」に移すためだという。講師たちは、希望すれば選考はしてもらえるが、採用の保証はない。

サイマルの教員組合はこれを無期転換逃れだと考えている。というのも、サイマルとベルリッツは、ベネッセグループのグループ企業(子会社)だからだ。

ただし、法的に争うのは容易ではない。外国人の労働問題にくわしい指宿昭一弁護士は、「法廷に持ち込まないと決着が難しい。容易な裁判にはならない」と指摘する。

「ただし、同一グループ内での事業譲渡で、無期転換を免れることができるなら、やりたい放題になってしまう。撤回してほしい」(指宿弁護士)

一方のサイマル側は「無期転換逃れということは全く考えていない」と否定。「事業譲渡は以前から検討しており、たまたまこのタイミングになってしまった。全員は無理だとしても、雇用の機会には最大限配慮している」と回答している。

●フランス政府公式なのに…日仏学院は悪条件での無期転換か、契約終了を提示

フランス政府公式機関の語学学校「アンスティチュ・フランセ」(日仏学院)の講師たちも無期転換逃れを主張している。

学院側は講師に対し、給料約3割カットなどの条件悪化で無期転換するか、契約を更新しないかを選ばせているという。すでに条件を呑んでしまった講師もいるが、東京の講師たちが抵抗。東京都労働委員会に不当労働行為救済の申し立てをしている。

(弁護士ドットコムニュース)

Why Japanese people keep working themselves to death

TOKYO — Years after losing his son, Itsuo Sekigawa is still in shock, grief-stricken and angry.

Straight out of college in 2009, his son Satoshi proudly joined a prestigious manufacturer, but within a year he was dead. Investigators said working extreme hours drove him to take his own life.

The young engineer fell victim to the Japanese phenomenon of “karoshi,” or death from overwork.

Read more

NS Solutions case is latest battle in long war against sexual harassment

The first time a court in Japan ruled on the issue of sexual harassment was on Aug. 5, 1989. On that day, in what has become known as the Fukuoka Sexual Harassment Case, the Fukuoka District Court found the individual harasser and the employer responsible for damages.

 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) had been enacted three years earlier, but awareness of issues affecting women in the workplace was still low in Japan; they were considered “workplace flowers,” “seat warmers until marriage,” “male workers’ assistants” or even “unsold Christmas cakes.” The last epithet referred to those whose values as women were said to be plunging because they had not married by age 25 (with Christmas Day being Dec. 25 and all).

Read more

Are university teachers in Japan covered by the ‘five-year rule’?

By Louis Carlet (Hifumi Okunuki is off this month):

My colleague Gaetan and I recently presented a seminar on the “five-year rule” to a group of Francophones at an event hosted by the Francais du Monde — Association Democratique des Francais a l’Etranger (French of the World — Democratic Association of French Abroad).

Gaetan had prepared an organized lecture, with charts and translations projected onto the wall behind him. We worked to convince the attendees that next year they could use the so-called five-year rule to become permanent employees if they had served more than five years in fixed-term contracts. Many of them were university teachers.

Read more