Louis Carlet, Tony Dolan, and Orren Frankham present a Tozen Daigaku on how to safely organise your coworkers, what to be careful of, how to build up a union, and their own experiences in building unions.
June 17th, 2016 1:25 PM
Tokyo District Court on Friday overturned Japan’s Pension Agency’s 2011 decision rejecting Tozen member Yancey Co’s appeal to enroll in Japan’s shakai hoken health and pension scheme.
Co’s employer Berlitz Japan had kicked him off shakai hoken in 2008, after his work hours apparently fell below 30 hours per week in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The 30-hour, or 3/4 of a full timer, threshold can be found nowhere in labor law but rather in the agency’s internal memo dated June 6, 1980.
The English language instructor from Vancouver, Canada, had asked the agency to force Berlitz to enroll him but through three appeals the agency ruled against him.
After four and a half years of litigation, Tozen Union sees the Friday victory as a partial victory only.
“We insisted that the memo has no legal force and should not be used to kick someone off shakai hoken,” said Louis Carlet, an executive of Tozen Union. “We were hoping the court would declare the memo illegal. Unfortunately the judge didn’t go that far.”
Tozen Attorney Shoichi Ibuski said, “This is one step forward and we hope to use this to go further still.”
(See video presentation below.)
Every year, thousands of young native English-speakers fly to Asia in search of an adventure, financed by working as English teachers. They come from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Britain, Canada and elsewhere.
But it can be risky leaping into another country on the promise of an “easy” job. In Japan’s competitive English teaching market, foreign language instructors are treading water. “Subcontractor” teachers at corporate giant Gaba fight in the courts to be recognized as employees. Berlitz instructors become embroiled in a four-year industrial dispute, complete with strikes and legal action. Known locally as eikaiwa, “conversation schools” across the country have slashed benefits and reduced wages, forcing teachers to work longer hours, split-shifts and multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
This morning Tozen JCFL Local members, Tozen members, and supporters conducted a leafleting at JCFL in an effort to build our union there. Below is our report.
After gathering we walked together towards the school, put on our armbands, and got to leafleting. We began leafleting at 8:40. Several staffers immediately stood in front of the union members attempting to block them. The members kept their cool and persisted in leafleting, trying hard to get the leaflets to the students without touching the staffers. I tried to confront the staffers individually, informing them that this was a union action and they should not interfere. The staffers either ignored me or told me that they were outside to protect the students from cars, and that they are out there every day. Principal Iizuka said this several times as well. School staff, however, do not greet students in the street on a daily basis.