シェーン語学学校との労働紛争が6年目を迎え、講師は組織化とストへ

2019 November 22
Locations : Kichinoji(吉祥寺)、Nishi-funabashi(西船橋)、Kita-urawa(北浦和)
leafleting for recruitment: Kichinoji(吉祥寺)、Nishi-funabashi(西船橋)、Kita-urawa(北浦和)
Shane Workers’ Union members leafleting to recruit new members

 11月下旬金曜、初冬の寒さが混じり込む雨降りの朝、シェーン労働組合(SWU)の組合員らは傘をさし、吉祥寺校、西船橋校、北浦和校のそれぞれの研修を受けに来た同僚たちに挨拶を交わす。

5年前の同組合シェーンコーポレーションにおける、初めてのストライキを行った信念強い組合員であるエズラ・ウルノー執行委員は、悪天候の中、リチカ・シン書記長と共に吉祥寺校でのビラ配りを奮起し行った。

北浦和校では、スタイリッシュなニット帽からはみ出る長髪天パが特徴のオレン・フランクハム組合員が、埼玉地区で初の、また彼自身としても初の組織化活動を行った。

東ゼン労組ベグント支部の組合員の団結なく、オレン組合員一人だけでの決行は、実現できなかった。ベグント支部には恩義を感じる。

一方、千葉地区では、組合活動に著しい盛り上がりが見られる。マーチン・ワイト組合員は、

シェーン稲毛校における従業員代表選挙に正当に当選した彼のポジションを奪おうとした経営側の非民主主義的な行動に負けず、職場における民主主義の模範を示してくれた。同組合員が初めてスト権を行使し、2名の同僚を感化させ、公正な労働条件のために共に闘う新たな仲間を組織化した。

東ゼン労組不屈の専従オルグ、ジェローム・ロスマンとその他支援者たち、そして多数の参加者によって、組合の粘り強さと団結が示された。私たちはこれを真剣に活動をしている。

シェーン労働組合の組合員らは、全体的に評価され、組合加盟への関心が多く見て取れた。加盟手続きキットは何人かの手に渡ったため、新たに申込書が本部に届くことに楽しみにしている。

先月、解雇撤回を命令した東京高裁で勝訴を収めた、東ゼン労組シェーン労組執行委員長であるアダム・クリーブ氏は、「今日私たち組合員が成し遂げたことを大変誇りに思っています。私たちには勢いがあり、更に成長しています」と述べた。

 11月23日(土)は、勤労感謝の日である。この日は、人々が互いの勤労を感謝し合うための日本国民の休日とされている。しかし、シェーンコーポレーションは、従業員のために行われる通年行事を中止した。例年は、勤労感謝の日の前日、無料ドリンクと催し物があったにもかかわらず、今年用意されていたのは、終日研修とドーナツ一箱のみであった。土曜日もまた、休日の予定であったにもかかわらず、台風ハギビスを理由に休講した一日分のレッスンを補講するために、働かなければならなかった。

これが勤労感謝の日に行われた、シェーンコーポレーションによる労働者への感謝のあらわし方である。

土曜日も、ストを打ち、新たに3名の講師がスト権を行使することをきっかけに組合に加盟した。スト参加者の勇敢さは尊敬に値する。既存の組合員が団結をし、共にストに参加した。

講師に対する昇給は、少なくとも7年間なく、シェーン労組は従業員全員の賃金を一律3%引き上げるためのストライキを行っている。また、ストライキの要求事項の一つに、社会保険加入と、雇用安定を図るための無期雇用もある。

シェーンコーポレーションはこのストライキ紛争の終結のために5年間交渉を続けてきたが、それは底知れず失敗を繰り返してきた。当組合の要求は理にかなったものである。今こそ、経営側は何かしらの協議をする時であるが、組合が大きくなり続けるのと同時に、彼らは遅れをとるであろう。

シェーン労組はこれから先もずっと、ここに居座り続ける。シェーンで働く全従業員のより良い労働条件の為に闘うことを諦めない。

2019年11月23日

シェーン労組 執行委員長

アダム・クリーブ

Translation by Mizuho Matsumoto

Unionized teachers recruit and strike as dispute with Shane language school enters sixth year

As the first winter chill creeps into the Tokyo air on a rainy Friday morning in late November, members of the Shane Workers Union (SWU), sheltering under their umbrellas, greet their co-workers arriving for training in Kichijoji, Nishi Funabashi and Kita Urawa.

SWU stalwart Ezra Woolnough, veteran of the first strike at Shane Corp five years ago braced the poor weather to distribute leaflets at Kichijoji school with General Secretary Ritika Singh, the core of SWU’s new dynamic cohort.

In Kita Urawa,Orren Frankham, his flowing locks peeking out from beneath a stylish beanie, performed the first ever recruitment action in Saitama district and indeed his first. Without the  solidarity of a Tozen Begunto member we would not have sent Orren out on his own.
Begunto, we owe you one.

Over in Chiba we’ve seen a surge in union activity. Showing us how democracy in the workplace should be done, Martin White repelled management’s undemocratic attempts to usurp his position as duly elected workplace representative at Inage school. He breaks his strike duck bringing two new entrants into the struggle for fair working conditions.

Joined by Tozen organiser, the indomitable Gerome Rothman and guests, an impressive turnout demonstrates the commitment and solidarity of the union. We take this seriously.

The members of SWU were well received overall and a lot of interest shown in joining the union. Several membership kits were handed out and we look forward to receiving those applications very soon.

Recently reinstated at Shane after a High Court victory last month, Branch President Adam Cleeve said “I’m incredibly proud of the members for what they’ve achieved today. The momentum is with us and we are growing.”

Saturday 23rd November is Labour Thanksgiving Day, Kinrō Kansha no Hi. A day marked as a national holiday in Japan to give one another thanks for their hard work. Shane Corp have abandoned the traditional annual party for staff. Instead of free drinks and entertainment a full day of training and a box of doughnuts was on offer Friday. Saturday was also a day staff expected to have off but instead are having to work to make up a day lost to Typhoon Hagibis. This is how Shane Corp gives thanks to their workforce on Labour Thanksgiving.

Strike action also took place on Saturday with a further three teachers joining SWU by withdrawing their labour. I respect their bravery. We won’t let them strike alone and were joined by established members of SWU.

There have been no pay rises for teachers at Shane for at least 7 years and SWU are striking for an across the board rise of 3%. Also in the strike demands are Shakai Hoken (employer contributory health and pension) and job security through permanent contracts.

SWU is here for good, we’re a part of the furniture and we’re not giving up the fight for better working conditions for all the workers at Shane. Shane Corp have had five years to negotiate an end to the strikes but have unfathomably failed to do so. Our demands are perfectly reasonable. Now is the time for management to put something on the table but I expect they will continue to delay as SWU continues to grow in strength and numbers.

Adam Cleeve
SWU Branch President
November 23rd 2019

Reinstated Shane Worker Cleeve

Bread and Roses: Tokyo Tribunal Turns Tables on Shane Language School

Full disclosure: I am the executive president of Tokyo General Union (Tozen), and the plaintiff in this court case is a member of my union. I have a clear conflict of interest here since, although Tozen is not a direct party to the litigation, the union’s fight is key background.

So, dear reader, please read this month’s installment while keeping in mind my inevitable subjectivity on the matter.

Just last month—on October 9, 2019—the Tokyo High Court threw out a lower court ruling and voided a 2017 firing from language school Shane Corporation. The appellant, Adam Cleeve, serves as executive president of Shane Workers Union (SWU), a local chapter of Tozen. He taught English at Shane English School until the employer fired him in February 2017.

Cleeve tried to take paid leave to be with his wife during childbirth and help her care for the new baby. But Shane and Cleeve’s understandings are cleaved into two mutually exclusive understandings of how paid leave works in Japan. Shane management counted his days off as absent without leave, then refused to renew his revolving one-year contract.

He couldn’t bear the utter unjust nature of the firing (my emotion getting in the way now) and sued to overturn the dismissal in the Tokyo District Court. The lower court upheld the dismissal, however, and rejected Cleeve’s claims in a verdict that accepts the defendant’s claims, misreads the law on paid leave, ignores the plaintiff’s assertions, and errs on several facts.

Shane claimed that Cleeve had neglected a child in his class who had fallen and split her lip. He testified in detail the measures he took to care for her and inform her father. Cleeve and the union were knocked off their feet by the first ruling’s ignorance and injustice.

At this point, after two years, I would have forgiven him for giving up the fight and saying screw you to the school, the court, and the whole cruel world. But Cleeve kept the towel in his corner, stood back up, wiped off the sweat, stomped back into the ring, and dragged the case over to the appellate court. He stayed fighting because he could not accept the fact that Shane had, with impunity, violated his right to paid holiday.

He took a large corporation to court with no way to know the time or nature of the outcome, just after getting sacked, after his baby girl was born, after his wife had just given birth to that baby girl. All this required courage, determination, and tenacity, not to mention time and money.

Cleeve saw the fight as not his own but rather a fight for all his workplace comrades. He dared not let up the union’s fight to protect all workers’ right to annual paid leave. His wife and daughter were there for him, as were his union comrades who have fought alongside him for so long. Indeed, even Cleeve would have found it difficult or impossible to fight till the bitter (or sweet) end had he not had a labor union in his corner.

“This is just one small drop in the struggle for workers’ rights,” Cleeve commented on the ruling. “We owe it to each other to hold companies to account and to show solidarity with one another other.” Asked about his current situation, he said, “Now that I’m back at work, my vow is to build a union at Shane that equalizes the power between worker and employer.”

Ok, sip your morning coffee, and let’s take a look at the legal nitty gritty of this case.

Shane hires Cleeve in March 2015 on a one-year contract, which gets renewed the following March. He applies to take paid holidays for the birth of his first child due in November 2016. The company turns him down. Shane grants twenty paid holidays a year but says only five can be taken at the teacher’s discretion. The company designates the other fifteen. Cleeve takes the days anyway, and management counts him as absent without leave. Shane refuses to continue his employment after February 28, 2017.

Paid leave—called nenji yukyu kyukanenkyu, or yukyu—is a right guaranteed under Article 39 of the Labor Standards Act (Rokiho). This 1947 law affords you ten days after six months of employment (assuming you work five days a week), Twelve more months gives you eleven days, then the next year twelve, and so on. Each year you get a bigger tranche of yukyu till you top out at twenty days a year. You can carry each tranche over to the following year, but it’s use-them-or-lose-them after that.

One point of contention in the Shane case was over the system that designates all but five of the twenty paid holidays the school offers even in the first year. This system (called nenji yukyu kyuka keikakuteki fuyo) was legislated in 1987, ostensibly to ensure workers took paid holidays and that employers could better manage paid holidays. But use of the system requires a roshi kyotei agreement concluded between the employer and a majority employee representative.

Shane had not signed such a contract at the time of these events. The lower court evaded this issue and ruled that Cleeve’s alleged poor professionalism and multiple absences sufficed for dismissal. The High Court, however, said Shane cannot designate the legally mandated paid holidays without the roshi kyotei.

The Tokyo High Court added that Cleeve should be able to take all twenty days freely, meaning the “designated” days off were invalid. The days Cleeve did not show up for work were either legitimate paid holidays, as per the law, or days that the union struck—a right guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan. In turn, that means the non-renewal “lacked objective, rational grounds according to social norms.” That phrase represents the litigant sweet spot if you want to prove a firing needs overturning.

Among all the points addressed by the court, I was particularly impressed by its recognition of the importance of the legal principle called “procedural justice.”

The system of designating government-guaranteed paid leave days recognizes the employer’s involvement in what is supposed to be a free decision by workers. All the more reason the system must be run properly to avoid it becoming yet another tool helping management keep workers in line. A pact between management and a duly elected representative is required to designate paid holidays. Another such an agreement (called an Article 36 Agreement, saburoku kyotei, since it is stipulated there in the Labor Standards Act) is also required before workers can be asked to work more than eight hours a day. (Incidentally, workers in Japan take 51.1% of their allotted leave, according to a Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare study. Workers are flushing half their paid leave down the drain. One of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s workplace reforms that kicked in this April is a new rule that forces employers to require their employees to take at least five days if they don’t take any on their own.)

This Article 36 Agreement document is crucial since it reflects the will of workers. Yet many workplace representatives are appointed by management rather than elected by employees. The representative then signs it without properly reading what she is signing. This happens at Shane as well, and our union is currently disputing just this issue in negotiations.

“Shane will do whatever they can to prevent their teachers and staff from exercising their rights under labor law—in this case, the right to take paid holidays freely,” said Tozen Senior Organizer Louis Carlet. “They make their own rules and apparently believe their rules take precedence over the law.”

Cleeve and the Shane Workers Union have drawn attention to the problem of employers ignoring workers’ voices during these processes. Although the lower court ignored this problem, the Tokyo High Court recognized that an employer cannot simply decide paid holidays unilaterally without input from the workers themselves. This verdict defends something well worth defending.

This article was written by Hifumi Okunuki, and originally published by the Shingetsu News Agency (SNA).

GABA講師のストライキ権獲得 労働委員会

2019年10月23日

東京都労働委員会は今日、英会話スクールのGABAに対し、講師達のストライキ権を認めなければならないと命令を下した。

2016年に、東ゼン労組と同組合の支部であるGABA労働組合は、ストライキを打った講師陣に対し発行された警告書を撤回するよう、救済を申し立てた。

GABAは、1000人以上の講師と業務委託契約を結んでいるが、講師たちは単なるサービス提供者だとし、労働組合法に定められている労働者の権利はないと、主張した 

委員会は、講師たちは労働組合法が適用される条件を満たしているとし、ストライキの妨害行為に対し謝罪するよう、会社側に指示した。

大阪府労働委員会は、以前、組合(大阪にあるゼネラルユニオン、委員長は、デニス・テゾラット)を組織しているGABAの講師たちの団体交渉権を認めている。

これは非組合員も含む、全てのGABA講師たちの勝利です。」GABA労働組合の執行委員長タイラー・クリステンセンはこう述べる。

「私達がずっと言ってきたように、GABAの講師たちは通常の従業員たちと同等の権利を持っている。ということを確かにしました。今ここにて、私たちのストライキの権利は護られました。再び交渉の場に立ち、またこれからもGABAの講師たちのために、労働条件を改善し続けていくことを私たちは前向きに考えています。」

経営側は、もし仮に講師たちに団体交渉権があったとしても、ストライキ権も同時に持つべきではないと主張をした。

団結権、団体交渉権、団体行動権(ストライキを含む)は、労働三権として日本国憲法第28条にその規定が設けられている。 

委員会は、労働三権を分割して適用できるという、GABAが ”作り上げた”主張を却下した。

Gaba Teachers can Strike: Labor Board

Language school Gaba must recognize the right of instructors to strike, the Tokyo Labor Commission ruled today. 

Tozen Union and its local chapter Gaba Workers Union sued the language giant in 2016 to overturn warning letters issued to strikings teachers. 

Gaba has its more than one thousand teachers on private service provider contracts called gyomu itaku. The company argued that since each teacher is just a service provider, they don’t have the rights of workers under Japan’s Trade Union Act. 

The board noted that the teachers effectively qualify as workers for the purpose of that law and that the company must apologize to both unions for interfering in their strike. 

Osaka Labor Commission had previously recognized the right to collective bargaining of a union organizing teachers at Gaba (General Union). 

Management tried to overturn that ruling and argued that even IF teachers have the right to bargaining, they should not also  have the right to strike. 

In Japan, the rights to solidarity, collective bargaining, and collective action (including strikes) are enshrined as a set in Article 28 of the Constitution. 

“This is a victory for all Gaba instructors, including non-union members,” said Gaba Workers Union President Tyler Christensen.       

“It confirms what we’ve always said – Gaba instructors have the same rights as regular employees,” he added. “Now that our right to strike is secure, we look forward to getting back to the bargaining table and continuing to improve working conditions for Gaba instructors.”

The board rejected Gaba’s claim to be able to split the three rights (rodo sanken) as a theory they “just made up.”

英会話講師雇い止め、無効判決=訂正・おわびあり

英会話教室「シェーン英会話スクール」で有期雇用契約の講師だったイギリス人男性(47)が雇い止めにあったのは不当だとして、運営会社を相手取って雇い止めの無効などを求めていた訴訟の判決が9日、東京高裁であった。村上正敏裁判長は雇い止めは無効として、原告の訴えを棄却した一審・東京地裁判決を取り消した。

 原告側の代理人弁護士が9日、厚生労働省で記者会見して明らかにした。判決によると、講師だった男性は2015年3月、1年間の有期雇用契約を運営会社と結び、16年にさらに1年間更新したが、17年に雇い止めとなった。

 訴訟では雇い止めの理由として、男性が約2年間で取得した有給休暇のうちの14日間が欠勤となるかが争われた。

 一審の地裁判決は、14日間は法律で従業員が自由に取得できる休暇分を超えており、男性が会社の許可を得ずに欠勤したとして雇い止めを認めた。

 高裁判決はこれを否定。会社側は従業員が自由に取得できる有給休暇と会社が指定する休暇とを区別していなかったなどとして14日間は欠勤と認められないとした。

 <訂正して、おわびします>

 ▼10日付社会面の「英会話講師雇い止め無効判決」の記事で、「坂本真紀裁判官」とあるのは「村上正敏裁判長」の誤りでした。判決資料の確認が不十分でした。

JCFL Finally Sends Union a Stamped Apology Letter

On August 9th 2019, Tokyo High Court ruled that Japan College of Foreign Languages interfered with union leafleting in June and October of 2013, violating trade union law and the constitutional rights of Tozen Union members.  Shortly thereafter, JCFL sent an apology letter to the union in accordance with the verdict.

However, in violation of Japanese norms and common sense, JCFL did not affix their stamp.  When the union asked for a version with the stamp, JCFL ignored the letter.

Tozen Union had to take the step of filing a complaint with the Central Labor Commission charging that JCFL was in violation of the order.  Under pressure from the Central Labor Commission, JCFL has finally issued a proper apology letter to the union, over two months after the verdict was finalized.

This is just more evidence of how Tozen Union has had to fight tooth and nail to get JCFL to recognize the trade union rights of our members.  

The Tozen JCFL local, established in 2013, faced a hostile reception from the outset. At two union actions JCFL obstructed union leafleting. The union sued JCFL in the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission. On Jan 25, 2016, the commission ruled that the school had interfered with legitimate union activity and ordered the school to apologize.

JCFL appealed to the Central Labor Relations Commission, which upheld the ruling.

The school sued the government to overturn the ruling. On March 1, 2019 Tokyo District Court again ruled against JCFL. The school took the case to Tokyo High Court which rejected JCFL’s appeal.

“Rather than take responsibility from the very beginning and simply apologize, JCFL has adopted a strategy of stonewalling and endless litigation, wasting time and prolonging the inevitable,” said Tozen Senior Organizer Gerome Rothman. “JCFL has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the union, except under court order.”

Union President Todd Williams said, “To call this a hard won victory for the union would be an understatement. It is a testament to the grit and tenacity of our members. JCFL cannot escape the consequences of its belligerence towards the union.”

Read the apology here.

Reinstated Shane Worker Cleeve

英会話スクール講師が逆転勝訴 会社の有給指定に反対、雇い止めは無効

英会話スクールの男性講師が、不当な雇い止めにあったとして会社に地位確認を求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が10月9日、東京地裁であった。村上正敏裁判長は男性敗訴の1審東京地裁判決を変更し、雇い止めを無効として2017年4月からの未払い賃金(月額25万7800円)の支払いを命じた。

判決後、原告のアダム・クリーブさん(47)が東京・霞が関の厚労省記者クラブで会見を開き、「職場に戻ることを楽しみにしています。長い戦いでしたが、判決で正当ということが再確認できました」と話した。

●年間20日間全ての有給「自由に指定できる」

判決文などによると、アダムさんは2015年3月、「シェーンコーポレーション」(東京都千代田区)の運営する「シェーン英会話スクール」に常勤講師として1年間の有期雇用契約で採用された。雇用契約は1回更新された。2016年11月に育児休暇に先立ち有給休暇を取得したところ、会社側は認めず無許可での欠勤として評価。2017年2月28日に雇い止めされた。

同社の有給休暇は、年間20日間付与されていたが、うち15日間については会社側が取得する時季を指定して一斉に取得する計画年休としていた。5日を超える日数を計画的に付与するためには、労使協定を結ぶ必要がある(労働基準法39条6項)。

しかし、同社は計画年休に関しての労使協定を結んでおらず、アダムさんは「全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン(東ゼン)」のシェーン労働組合の執行委員長として、東京都労働委員会に申し立てをした。しかし、その審議途中に勤務態度不良を理由に雇い止めを受けた。

高裁判決は、時季指定する15日間の計画年休について、会社が法定年次有給とそれを超える分の有給を区別することなく指定しており、「全体として無効」として、年間20日間全ての有給が自由に指定できると判断。

有給取得は正当な理由のない欠勤であったとは認められず、無断欠勤もストライキの実施によるもので「雇い止めをするかどうかの判断をする際に考慮に入れるのは相当でない」として、「雇い止めは、客観的に合理的な理由を欠き、社会通念上相当であるとは認められない」と判断した。

●「同僚との団結が非常に重要」

代理人の指宿昭一弁護士は「全く当たり前だが、正しい判断をしている」と評価。同じく代理人の加藤桂子弁護士は「労働委員会での審議中に、会社の言い分が正しいことを前提に雇い止めをした。制度に乗っ取って話し合いをしていたのに、あまりに労働者を軽視する態度だった」と話した。

仕事を失いアダムさんは専業主夫となったため、保育園にも入れず、裁判にも長女を連れて臨んだ。アダムさんは「同僚との団結が非常に重要。組合に入ることで、会社側に説明責任を求めることができます」と話した。

●会社側「コメントできない」

シェーンコーポレーションは「担当者が外出しており、コメントできない」と話した。

弁護士ドットコムニュース編集部

High Court Overturns Shane Dismissal of Tozen Union Activist

The Tokyo High Court today (Oct. 9) overturned the lower court’s verdict in a dismissal case against Shane. The eikaiwa language school in 2017 fired Adam Cleeve, president of Tozen’s Shane Workers Union.

Tokyo District Court upheld the ruling and ignored union claims of strike-busting. Shane fired Adam in effect for actively participating in the union’s strike, a point not lost on the court.

Judge Murakami threw out nearly every one of Shane’s assertions, and invalidated their illegal designated paid leave system.

The court ordered Shane to pay all back wages from March 2017 until the verdict and to take Adam back to work. Shane is likely to appeal the Supreme Court, but that court is unlikely even to hear the case.

“I am excited to get back to work and resume our struggle for better working conditions,” Adam told reporters at a press conference after the verdict came down.

Tozen Union senior organizer Louis Carlet said, “A shout-out to all our members at Shane for their solidarity, tenacity and resilience thus far.”

“This is the first step in bringing about real change at Shane. Now is the time to recruit and build a force that can finally boost conditions for all teachers and counselors,” he added.