Shame on Shane – Forty-one Shane workers strike for full corona pay

Few corporations paid full kyugyo te-ate furlough allowance during the emergency shutdown.
Shane Eikaiwa (Shane Corp.), however, paid its teachers the full allowance during April and May. At first glance, the company apparently showed respect to its workers, a company anybody would be proud to work at.

But this pretty picture has turned ugly, with management deducting wages without workers’ consent and trying to get them to work overtime for free.

The number of members of the Tozen Union Shane Workers Union has tripled from just 20 a month ago on June 24, to 71 today.
Today, 41 members walked out, the biggest strike in the history of Tozen Union’s Shane chapter and even in the history of Tozen Union.

We heard of many workplace problems that school counselors faced, but they were reluctant to stand up, organize and fight back. But counselors have joined the union and have now struck. Being the first to step forward is tough, yet they refused to bow to the pressure and took the bold and daring step of standing up.

Shane Eikaiwa presented instructors with two options in late June.

Option 1 was to maintain the same work schedule they had before the state of emergency declaration with no need to provide make-up classes on their days off. But they would get about half their upcoming pay deducted.

Option 2 was to keep all the wages they received during the closure, but then be required to do make-up classes for free to offset those wages. In effect, this means that the money paid during closure was an advance payment for future work.

Option 1 violates a principle in Article 24 that wages must be paid in full and cannot be deducted without the employee’s agreement; and Option 2 violates Article 17 of the Labor Standards Act, which stipulates Employers cannot pay an advance as a loan on condition that those wages will be offset by future labor.

Astonishingly, Shane Eikaiwa told teachers that if they refused to choose either option, they would automatically get stuck with Option 1. Employees end up being strong-armed into choosing one of these two options.

The members of Tozen Union’s Shane local rejected both options. Many members reran employee rep elections at their schools and told management they refuse and reject any deduction from their wages.
Management continues to refuse to conclude a rodo kyoyaku collective bargaining agreement over corona wages and work schedules.

Today, school counselors and instructors – the workers at Shane Eikaiwa stood up and prosecuted a major strike.

Recently, Yahoo News ran a piece on Shane Eikaiwa by well-known journalist and commentator Haruki Konno. The article was retweeted over 700 times, including by Shane students as well as those who want to take action to change things for instructors.

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/byline/konnoharuki/20200707-00187003/
Outraged teachers strike after Shane says corona furlough pay was a ‘loan’

Countless unresolved issues between Shane Eikaiwa and the union remain, but what we must fight now is what is right in front of us – the next pay day on August 15.

山本太郎から東ゼン労働組合への手紙 Letter from Yamamoto Taro to Tozen Union

 東ゼン労働組合に集う働く仲間の皆様、れいわ新選組代表の山本太郎です。 

Comrades of Tozen Union:  

I am Taro Yamamoto of the Reiwa Shinsen-Gumi. 

 皆様には、日頃から熱いご支援を頂いています。この場をお借りしまして心から感謝と御礼を申し上げます。本当にありがとうございます。 

  You have given our political party so much passionate support on a near daily basis. Let me take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation. Thank you. 

 みなさまの結成10周年の記念大会、折からの新型コロナの影響で延期となり、このようなオンラインの開催になったということは、未だ感染拡大が収束せず、厳しい経済状況を反映して居ると思います。本日は、皆様からせっかくのお招きを頂きましたが、党務の都合で欠席となることを心からお詫び申し上げます。 

The novel coronavirus delayed your decennial convention and forced it online, reflecting, I think, the dire economic straights we find ourselves in, with the spread of the coronavirus not yet brought under control. Thank you for inviting me today, but I must apologize that party responsibilities prevent me from attending.  

 多くの外国人語学講師など海外からの労働者のみなさまが加入する貴組合では、コロナの影響で仕事がなくなり、生活費が底をつき、家賃やローン等を支払えない労働者の救済に尽力されているとうかがっております。コロナ下の労働では「3密」回避の徹底が求められ、加えて外国人労働者の場合には、日本の休業手当の制度や有給、傷病手当金などの制度について労働者のわかる母国語での情報発信が求められます。 

   Tozen Union has many foreign language teachers and workers from overseas. I understand that you have done everything possible to help those who have lost their jobs to corona, are struggling to make ends meet, and cannot afford rent and loan payments. Workers in the age of corona must completely avoid sanmitsu – the three types of congestive environments: close contact, crowds, and poorly ventilated spaces. Foreign workers must have proper information on Japan’s kyugyo te-ate furlough allowance system, paid leave, and shobyo te-ate sick leave support, all provided in their native languages. 

ある民間会社の調査で外国人を対象に新型コロナウイルスの影響を聞いたところ、必要とする情報として、「行政からの支援」が最多で42%、「健康やコロナウイルス」が32%でした。どの支援を利用できるのかが最大の関心事であるとわかります。様々な支援制度が乱立し、応募要件が複雑な中、法制度上日本での生活にさまざまな制約が課されている人々が、速やかに支援につながるためには、貴組合のような労働組合の存在がきわめて重要であると思います。 

With the impact of the novel coronavirus, 42% of foreigners said they need explanations of “government aid programs” more than any other information, according to a poll by a private company. This topped information on health and the coronavirus, cited by 32% of respondents. Aid programs abound; eligibility requirements are labyrinthian; but your union moves quickly to provide support those who encounter countless legal restrictions on their lives in Japan. The existence of your union is extremely important. 

 そして、労働環境や処遇改善をするためには、最低賃金を引き上げる必要があります。全国一律!最低時給1500円を政府が補償することは、安定雇用のための経済政策として必ず実現しなければならないと考えています。 

 To improve working environments and conditions, we must raise the minimum wage. We must make the government set a national unified minimum hourly wage of 1,500 yen, as an economic policy to ensure job security. 

去る4月6日、私たちれいわ新選組は、国政政党として、政府に対して、「労働者への賃金補填、社会保険料の免除、ローンの猶予」等の提言を行いました。 

 On April 6, national party Reiwa Shinsengumi urged the government to cover workers’ wages, waive premium payments for Shakai Hoken health and pension, and to provide a moratorium on loan payments.  

 微力ではございますが、東ゼン労働組合の仲間の皆様とともに、社会に広がりのある運動をつくる所存です。「引き続きのご指導ご教示を何卒宜しくお願い致します。 

結びに、東ゼン労働組合の加盟者の皆様のご多幸とご健勝と更なるご発展を心から祈念し、れいわ新選組代表、山本太郎からの連帯のメッセージと致します。 

  Although we have little political power, we are building a growing movement with all our comrades at Tozen Union. Please continue to share with us your wisdom and guidance. I, Taro Yamamoto, leader of Reiwa Shinsengumi, leave you with a heartfelt message of solidarity, wishing all Tozen Union members further success, health and happiness.   

                           2020年7月8日

8 July 2020 

                            れいわ新選組 

Reiwa Shinsengumi 

                            代表 山本 太郎 

Leader Taro Yamamoto 

Shane Corporation and Covid 19

In March, April and May 2020, Shane Corp. took the decision to close schools in response to the novel coronavirus and the declaration of a state of emergency in Japan.

Under Japanese law and in line with social norms, companies across the country have been furloughing their employees and paying an allowance (kyugyou teate), or keeping their employees busy by implementing work from home policies.

Shane Corp. decided on an entirely different approach, and has not furloughed workers or had them work from home. Instead, Shane Corp. have paid an advance, and expects the workers to either pay back the wages received, or work unpaid overtime. In effect, Shane staff were paid nothing for the closures. The company took a position to change working hours and designated holidays without the consent of the workers. This unilateral imposition is most probably illegal.

The number of members in the Shane Workers Union continues to surge as many staff have finally lost patience, and are increasingly frustrated at what they see as poor treatment.

It is the position of SWU that Shane Corp. pay 100% furlough allowance for the school closures, without any obligation to pay back or work back the money. We are prepared to volunteer to work overtime as long as it’s paid as overtime.

We hope to negotiate a sensible outcome that is fair to the staff and allows the customers to make up the lessons they missed.

Bread & Roses: Workers of the World! Unite and Stay Home!

SNA (Tokyo) — May Day came into this world on May 1, 1886, with a general strike to win “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will.” Three days later, workers gathered in Haymarket Square, Chicago, and clashed with cops sent in to shut them down. At least four civilians and seven officers died. Four workers were later sentenced to death for conspiracy to riot, despite not a shred of evidence. May Day spread beyond the borders of the United States to Europe and elsewhere. Today, we see the eight-hour workday as a social norm, albeit observed more in the breech. But workers shed blood and tears to bequeath this right to us. We should devote one day a year to recognizing those heroes’ achievement and sacrifice.

Read moreBread & Roses: Workers of the World! Unite and Stay Home!

Tozen Union ALTs win WFH in Sagamihara

[2020.4.12] Assistant language teachers (ALTs) in Sagamihara City will work from home beginning Monday 13th April rather than Tuesday 14th, dispatcher Interac KK told Tozen Union. 

The ALT dispatch giant had planned to send Tozen members to school this week, even though the city had already suspended classes. The union demanded its members work from home instead, to help fight the virus and slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During 11th hour virtual negotiations, Interac management agreed to have the teachers work from home beginning Tuesday, after commuting to the workplace one time only on Monday. 

The union welcomed the concession but insisted the ALTs work from home on Monday too. “We are concerned not just for the health and safety of our members, but also anyone they could come into contact during the commute,” said Tozen Senior Organizer Gerome Rothman. Interac agreed to talk to Sagamihara about the demand and later told the school board the ALTs will stay at home.

 “We appreciate Interac management’s attention to the health and safety of its employees,” Rothman said. Tozen Union demands all employers help fight the virus by paying employees full salary to work from home. 

Sagamihara City is a 40-minute train ride from Shinjuku in central Tokyo.
To join our union and the fight-the-virus campaign, contact Case Officer Gerome Rothman at tozen.rothman@gmail.com.  

Bread & Roses: Worker Rights in the Age of Coronavirus

SNA (Tokyo) — Last Friday, the Covid-19 global pandemic passed the horrifying milestone of one million infections and 50,000 fatalities worldwide. There have, as of this writing, been 4,592 confirmed cases and 106 deaths in Japan. Graphs of new cases and deaths trace the left half of steep parabolas as the world’s nations fail to flatten the curve. The global catastrophe and its grim toll traps workers between the closing jaws of infection risk and dire economic straits. As US commentator Krystal Ball noted, “the working class has been shoved into the front lines of this crisis.”

Read moreBread & Roses: Worker Rights in the Age of Coronavirus