[Tokyo, March 25, 2020] Yesterday, Tozen Union inked an agreement with NCC Foreign Language Institute, settling a four-year dispute.
The union and its NCC chapter sued the language school in March 2016, claiming union-busting, including cutting teachers’ classes and firing the president of NCC Union of Teachers and Staff (NUTS). Living up to its acronym, the union fought with insane commitment to the cause, with strikes, protests, and a long, grueling fight in the Tokyo Labor Commission.
Management submitted some 200 exhibits to the commission. The two sides logged 14.5 hours of sworn testimony on topics ranging from the school’s scheduling system to the case officer’s favorite baseball team (Chiba Lotte Marines).
NCC’s legal team prevailed for the most part, and the union won only one of 10 claims. But the school faced an imminent union appeal to the Central Labor Commission and two more years of Tozen’s blend of legal wrangling and street activism. With hours to spare before the appeal deadline, NCC agreed to a broad-ranging settlement.
[13 March 2020, Tokyo] Vending Machine Industry Union members working at four Coca Cola subcontractors (Sigma Logistics, Sigma Vending Service, Japan Beverage, and Okuraya) walked out Friday and protested in front of the Sigma Group headquarters building.
We at Tozen Union supported the strike and protest, along with Tobu Roso, Katsushika District Labor Council, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Union. Our unions mustered a total of 80 protestors, transcending all factional differences* and working together in true solidarity.
Keep the following labor law principles in mind regarding work furloughs ordered by your employer.
1. If your boss orders you to stay home without a legitimate, unavoidable reason, then in principle she must pay your full wages.
2. Article 26 of the Labor Standards Act stipulates that “In the event of an absence from work for reasons attributable to the employer, the employer shall pay an allowance (kyugo te-ate) equal to at least 60% of the worker’s average wage to each worker concerned during the period of absence from work.” If you tell your boss you don’t feel well and she orders you to take off, then you can claim the 60%. If you teach language and your school orders you to stay home as the virus reduces student numbers, you could claim the kyugo te-ate.
You are ineligible, however, if you choose to take time off. Such absence would be treated as ordinary sick days, unpaid unless stipulated in your contract or shugyo kisoku work rules. The employer bears no responsibility if the local government orders residents to stay home from work or in the event of a natural disaster.
3. You can take ordinary annual paid leave (nenji yukyu kyuka) if ineligible for the kyugo te-ate. If you are enrolled in the Shakai Hoken health and pension scheme, you can get an accident/sickness allowance (shobyo te-ate kin) beginning your fourth day off. That allowance is equivalent to two-thirds of your average salary.③ 休業手当が出ない場合、有給休暇を取得することができます。また、社会保険（健康保険）に加入していれば、4日以降休みが続けば、傷病手当金（平均標準報酬日額の3分の2）の対象になる可能性があります。
4. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 29 announced an aid program for parents who lose wages due to corona-related school closings. Whether the aid will pass through corporations or go directly to workers remains unclear. I will update you as soon we get more information.
5. It’s a bit trickier for those working on gyomu itaku services provider contracts and for those working on zero-hour contracts (with no monthly guarantee). If you work on gyomu itaku, then you have no protections under labor law except union rights. On zero-hour contracts, though, you can claim the above kyugyo te-ate if your schedule is pretty much set or determined in advance. If you have questions, let’s have a consultation.