Tokyo Labor Relations Commission began hearings on Monday, May 24 against Tokyo West International School. On April 1, 2021, Tozen Union and its local TWIST had filed a petition claiming that the school targeted the union in an attempt to weaken or destroy it, including unfair dismissals of three union teachers.
Union members expressed excitement to get the proceedings under way but were bewildered at claims made in the school’s defense brief that they had never before heard.
Le 9 mai 2021, Amjid Alam, membre du syndicat Tozen, a engagé des poursuites contre le Lycée Français International de Tokyo, une école gérée par l’AEFE, au motif de non paiement de salaire d’environ 1 million de yens.
Wednesday, May 26, the Tokyo Labor Relations Commission ordered Oberlin University to hold collective bargaining with Tozen Union. Oberlin University had refused negotiations since October 2019, demanding the union exclude rank and file members. The university had also insisted on bargaining in Japanese even though the day to day language of labor relations at the workplace is English.
The union demanded collective bargaining after Oberlin University announced it would outsource classes to a private contractor, threatening the job and income security of our members. Oberlin claimed the outsourcing was not a legitimate topic for union negotiations, a claim firmly rejected by the commission.
As a labour union we fight for workers’ rights, and worker safety. And the Tokyo Olympics has had numerous counts of worker deaths and injuries, and workers have reported a “culture of fear” that discouraged them from making complaints about working conditions.
Another major reason that we do not support the Olympics is that the world is currently in the midst of a global pandemic. Corona cases in Japan have been constantly rising and dropping, and with no large-scale vaccination in sight, going ahead with the olympics would be an unnecessary risk to all.
Other reasons that we oppose the Tokyo Olympics are:
A new Tozen Union local called TWIST (Tokyo West International School Tozen) held a protest on the afternoon of Tuesday March 9 at Tokyo West International School. Teachers at this Hachioji, Tokyo school gathered to protest the recent unfair dismissals of union members. They had declared their new union in late January of 2021, because many worked overtime without pay, lacked breaks, had fewer days of paid leave, and faced a general lack of support and disorganization in the workplace.
The union had just one collective bargaining session with management before the school decided to dismiss several members on February 19.
“We had a great meeting with management explaining our demands,” one member said. “We were open, honest and thought management had listened to our concerns. We wanted to work together to improve our work environment. Now we feel disappointed that many of our members were dismissed in retaliation for forming a union. Management rejected our pleas to reverse the dismissals before the March 8th deadline we set. We want to make others aware of the situation. Talented teachers are being dismissed without cause, and we want to prevent that from happening now and in the future.”
Employees of publisher and language training company ALC Press Inc. unionized last June after management pressured them to switch to part-time zero-hour contracts with no social benefits.
Since May 2020, ALC placed employees on required furlough on certain days each month, paying them reduced wages as per Article 26 of the Labor Standards Act. Although the publisher continues to operate business as usual, it has targeted workers in its domestic language and other departments who had refused to downgrade their working conditions, including switching to non-fixed, zero-hour contracts.
“I’m working exactly the same hours as I was in 2019, if not more, but management are still deducting my salary,” said one long-serving employee.
Required leave has been in effect since May 2020 and there is no foreseeable end. Management has also begun to refuse to renew certain fixed-term contracts.
ALC employees, some of whom served the company for over 25 years are, in their words, “shocked, disgusted, disturbed, and saddened” by what they once considered a family company. A union was formed in Tozen Union to stop to what they believe to be illegal forced furloughs. In some cases, certain employees have lost close to 1 million yen from their salaries since the forced furloughs began.
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union ALC Union (全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオンALC 支部) was established with just three members in June 2020 but has since more than quintupled in less than six months. Management do not have the interests of their employees at heart and only care about making a big, fat profit, even at the cost of financially devastating their workers, many of whom have young families and mortgages and are desperately struggling to make ends meet.
The company management has changed ownership and management several times over the past few years.
ALC’s website states, “ALC bring out the best in each employee, regardless of gender, age, or experience. We also endeavor to create an environment that makes it easy for everyone to work and continue working at each career stage. ALC also promotes the careers of its female employees.”
It’s time to hold ALC to its pledge.
We, ALC Union, appeal to all ALC employees who feel isolated, worried and concerned to get in touch with us – regardless of your contract, experience, position/job or nationality. This union is for everyone. Our goal is solidarity and to unite all ALC employees to ‘continue working at each career stage’ without the fear of management taking away our livelihoods and driving us out of the company.
If ALC’s new management do not agree or at least compromise with union demands, industrial action may have to take place.
To all ALC employees: We encourage you to get in touch with us before it is too late for you. Contact ALC Union case officer Gerome Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org