Tozen Union hits streets in record numbers to push for better conditions at Shane, Kanda Gaigo, Interac

Tozen’s historic Ichinichi Kodo All-Day Action fights for job security, higher wages; breaks through factionalism

Dec. 21, 2021. Under the crisp blue skies of Winter Solstice, Tozen Union held its first ever Ichinichi Kodo All-Day Action.

 Teachers at three local chapters of Tozen Union raised their fists and voices in front of each employer, demanding job security, Shakai Hoken health and pension, and a living wage.

 In addition to Tozen’s long-allied independent unions, all three national labor federations (Rengo, Zenroren, and Zenrokyo) joined the action, warming our hearts on this first day of winter.

 Rengo Tokyo provided the sound car for the day.

 Joining Tozen for the fight were: Japan Labour Soviet (Rohyo), General Support Union (GSU, affiliated with NPO Posse), Shutoken Union of University Part-Time Lecturers in Tokyo Area and the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Tobu (Tobu Roso).

 This day in Tozen history represented a pushback against the chronic factionalism of Japan’s labor movement. The faction-transcending unity made us forget the cold and gave management a peek at the kind of solidarity arrayed against them.

 More than 50 Tozen and allied members squeezed into a tight, thin line on a sliver of sidewalk in front of the Shane HQ office. In a large voice, we demanded the English conversation school give us job security and Shakai Hoken.

 Our displeasure at relentless management attacks against workers and the union during this protracted labor dispute burst forth over the speakers of our sound truck. A contingent of Shane members went into the HQ office to submit a written appeal. A manager took it, then flippantly remarked ‘Merry Christmas.’ Our Shane local won’t rest until they win stable working conditions.

 The throng walked a block away to Kanda University of Foreign Studies (KUIS). We demanded the school remove its unilateral and arbitrary 6-year limit on employment and agree to open-ended employment for teachers. These educating every day show pride and passion in inspiring the minds of their students.

 These teachers want to continue to teach beyond the six years, but the university administration asserts that after six years they are no longer capable of creating anything new. Kaiten (rotation) is necessary to keep the education development fresh, management insists. Members angrily shouted that “KUIS teachers are not dried out conveyor belt sushi!”

 The crowd traveled by subway to Ginza, to the headquarters of ALT-dispatcher Interac. We protested the company’s refusal to provide a living way or enroll ALTs in Shakai Hoken. A contingent separated, entered the high-rise office building, and rode the lift to Interac headquarters. There, they tried to hand over a written appeal. Management made them wait for over 20 minutes. The delegation decided to send it later by post; they returned to the lively protest down on street level to give a report to their comrades.

 One university student from GSU recounted how an ALT (assistant language teacher) had helped her learn ‘living English.’ She called on the company to recognize a living wage and said that ALTs are not ‘assistants.’

 We finished with a sprechchor, bringing life to the soul of workers, who know no faction, under the Ginza winter sky in the middle of the big city

 The labor unions and individuals who joined us in solidarity made this historic day possible.

東ゼン労組、労働条件向上を求めシェーン、神田外語大、インタラック前で過去最大規模の抗議

2021/12/21 東ゼン労組1日行動:安心して生活できる労働条件をかけた闘い!

2021年12月21日、冬至の晴れ渡った空の下、東ゼン労組史上初の一日行動をおこなった。

 東ゼン労組の3支部―シェーン英会話、神田外語大学、インタラックで働く教員たちは、各職場の前で、安定した雇用、生活できるだけの賃金の確保、社会保険加入を求め、こぶしを挙げて声を上げた。

 この1日行動には、長きにわたり連帯関係を結んでいる無所属独立系の労組のほか、3つのナショナルセンター(連合、全労連、全労協)に所属する労働組合も揃って参加してくださり、非常に温かくかつ心強い応援をいただいた。

 連合東京、日本労働評議会(労評)、全国一般東京東部労働組合(東部労組)、総合サポートユニオン、首都圏大学非常勤講師組合、それぞれの組合が党派を超えた同じ労働者として、共に怒りの拳を突き上げ、生活できる労働条件を求めて声を上げてくれた。その姿に、冬の寒さを忘れるほど胸が熱くなった。経営者に労働者の団結の力を余すところなく見せつけることができた1日行動となった。

 まずは、英会話学校のシェーン本社前で、50人超が狭い歩道に一列に並び、雇用の安定、社会保険加入、労使紛争の解決を求め声を上げた。経営側の組合員に対する攻撃が後を絶たず、紛争が未解決のまま長期化していることへの不満が噴出した。申入れ団が申入書を手渡しに行ったところ、経営者は「メリークリスマス」と軽く言い放ったということである。それでもシェーン支部は決してあきらめない。安心して働くことができる労働条件を求め続けていく。

 次は、シェーン英会話から100メートル離れたところにある神田外語大学に場所を移した。日々学生の教育のために誇りと情熱をもって仕事に打ち込んでいる教員たちに対して、大学側は無期雇用への転換を認めず、6年間でさようなら、と一方的に雇用を断ち切ろうとしている。教員はみんな、もっともっと働きたいと切望している。そんな教員たちに対して大学側は「6年も働いている教員に新しい教授方法を開発することはできない」と言い捨て、より“新鮮な”教員を採用するのだと言ってはばからない。「私たちは回転すしの干からびた寿司でではない!」と怒りの声を上げた。

 その後、場所を銀座に移し、外国語指導助手(ALT)を派遣する大手であるインタラック前で、生活ができる賃金と社会保険加入を求め声を上げた。申入団は、立派な高層ビルの本社事務所に上がり、申入書を渡そうと試みた。しかし経営側20分以上待たせたうえに、申入書を受け取る勇気がない様子であったため、申入団は仲間が声を上げる社前に戻り、再びアピールを続けた。

 総合サポートユニオンの大学生は、自分の高校時代の英語の先生(ALT)について、「ALTの先生は“助手”ではないと思います。私は、ALTの先生がいたからこそ、生きた英語を学ぶことができました」と語り、ALTの待遇改善に向けて力強いアピールを寄せてくれた。

 最後に、全員でシュプレヒコールをおこない、大都会の銀座の冬空に、党派を超えた労働者の魂の叫びが響き渡った。

 さいごに、今回の東ゼン労組の1日行動に連帯し、参加いただいたすべての労働組合、個人の方々に、心から感謝したい。

Shane Begins Docking Teachers’ Wages

By: Veronika Danovich

When Shane Corporation teachers checked their payslips on Tuesday September 15, 2020, they noticed a new category listed as “Repayment.” Teachers at the language school had negotiated to stop the company from taking this dreadful action. In July, the school informed them of a surprise loan that had been imposed on them during Japan’s lockdown months, initially understood as salary. Since then, the company has made no effort to negotiate in good faith. 

On August 28, newly elected teacher representatives met with Principal Alex Cox and Director Ian Holden. According to the minutes, “the average monthly deduction will be around 35,000 yen over 8 months” for teachers who were pushed into option 1  who could keep their paid leave but are required to pay back the salary that was paid to them during lockdown. Some teachers report being deducted upwards of 40,000 yen. Many teachers have expressed concern over illegal deductions made without their consent. They are also worried about the continued financial hardship they face with lower pay that will continue for 7 more paychecks. 

Teachers pushed into option 2 were permitted to keep the salary that was paid to them; however they have lost most of their paid leave and were told to work 6-day weeks to make up the days they owe for when the company was under lockdown. Certain district managers have told option 2 teachers that if they do not finish making up the extra days by March 31, 2021, then they will also be deducted for the remainder of this odious debt. Some teachers feel this is a trap and that no matter what option they choose; they will still get their wages docked. Other teachers report that they make themselves available for 6-day weeks but are still given no extra work and are told that there are no lessons to make up in certain districts. They worry that even though they make an effort to comply with what the company dictates; they will still get deducted.

The two “options” as the company called it, were not options at all. Teachers were forced to choose one or the other and if they refused to choose, they were forced onto option 1. Japanese staff were given no options, were deducted before teachers were and will be docked for 6 more paychecks. Initially, teachers were told that they would be deducted 50% from their paychecks for two consecutive months which forced many panicked and stressed teachers to choose option 2 due to the fear of suddenly not being able to pay their bills and other necessary expenses. However, the company later decided the “repayments” would be divided between 8 paychecks. This decision came without sufficient notice as the deadline the company set to decide on the options they forced upon teachers had passed. 

  Some option 2 teachers have requested to be reclassified to option 1 due to this new information, but the company refused, citing the deadline. Option 2 teachers are now forced to work during holidays mandated in their contracts, which the company says does not count towards the days owed. Shane offers no additional pay. According to Shane’s General Directives and Guidelines for Teachers section 5.1; “Teachers will earn a daily bonus of ¥15,000 for voluntarily working on a non-scheduled day of work” The company chooses to ignore these rules for option 2 teachers. 

Following the deduction, on Wednesday September 16, 22 teachers struck in response to the company’s actions. Teachers gathered in front of Shane schools in the Chiba and Saitama districts to hand out flyers to passersby and inform them about the treatment of teachers. “We did not consent to this” was written on one side of the flyers, while the other side provided public access articles and information detailing Shane’s actions  regarding corona pay and taking away paid leave.

Union membership continues to increase with both Japanese and foreign staff. The union will not give up in their efforts to negotiate despite the company trying to delay and refusing any real discussion of union demands. We want to come to some kind of an agreement with management before escalating to further legal action. Shane needs to take these demands seriously and realize what they are doing is not ok by any legal or moral standards.

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

Shane and Union busting.

Shane Workers Union (SWU) started in 2012.
SWU is currently negotiating for job security, better pay and health insurance (for those who want it).
In 2014, Shane management unfairly dismissed a member of SWU for leaving the workplace during his break time. In solidarity, the members voted and declared a strike after attempts to resolve the matter in collective bargaining failed. Following the first strike action in autumn 2014, two part time members had their work withdrawn and other members reported harassment by management.

Read more

Shane Eikaiwa Issues

Shane Eikaiwa Issues
シェーン英会話の問題

  • Are you unsatisfied with the relationship between teachers and Japanese school staff?
  • Are school counsellors truthful to you about student feedback or do they obstruct you by making inept “improvement suggestions”?
  • Does your school counsellor assign you very heavy schedules with only short breaks?
  • Are you pressured to cover days at the last minute?
  • The schedule for the next day can be changed only as late as 6 p.m the day before. Does your counsellor call you late into the night?
  • Are you treated with respect from your manager?
  • Do you have a problem with cover days?
  • Do you have a problem with additional training days?
  • Are you concerned that teacher representative only meets management twice a year and that meeting minutes are rarely seen by teachers?
  • Do you want to be enrolled in Shakai Hoken?
  • Are your troubled by the increase in insurance premiums to Interglobal from 7,000 yen to 8,000 yen a month which doesn’t cover dental insurance or hospitalisation?
  • Are you upset that teachers are only considered to be working teaching time, not the actual time in school?

Improve your working conditions at Shane by contacting us today: info@tokyogeneralunion.org

Shane Teachers Begin Tozen Strike Action

Several teachers at Shane laid down their white board markers on Tuesday to demand the reinstatement of an unfairly dismissed union member and to demand job security.

The English language school illegally fired a teacher for leaving the school during a break. In Japan employees are 100% free during breaks.

Shane also forces teachers through the humiliation and insecurity of one-year revolving contracts. Tozen Union Shane Workers Union is fighting for several demands, among them ordinary permanent employment.

We are experiencing union growth at Shane and look forward to having enough members to make striking even more effective. We also reach out to Shane administrative staff to join forces.

Cram school buys out Shane English School

Cram school operator Eikoh Inc. said Friday it has acquired Shane English School to strengthen its English-language education for elementary school children ahead of the planned compulsory teaching of the language for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Eikoh, based in the Kanto region, didn’t disclose how much it paid for the acquisition of shares in the four operating companies that run the English school chain, which mainly operates in the Tokyo metropolitan area. [Other reports claim that around the purchase was for approximately 1 billion yen, or $12 million dollars, a similar amount as Eikoh paid for Nellie’s and Shane Language Services in early October 2010, both of which were also owned by Saxoncourt.]

Representatives of both Eikoh and Shane English School said the acquisition won’t involve personnel cuts or other drastic changes in operations.

Shane English School, a British English school owned by Saxoncourt Holdings, Ltd. based in the British Virgin Islands, operates 199 branches across the Kanto region, of which 46 are franchised.

[Eikoh Inc. business management division representative Hiroyuki ] Otsubo said Eikoh has no plans to change the number of teachers working for Shane English School and its roughly 20,000 students will continue receiving the same services.

Eikoh operates 380 cram schools and has 67,000 students. A press release from Eikoh said that in the Tokyo area, Shane already holds 60 percent of its classes in the same location as classes hosted by Eikoh.

Takehiko Kikuchi, a PR representative for Shane English School, said company employees and teachers received the news calmly.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101120a2.html