Begunto returns to striking for the first time in 13 years!

From the Begunto Website:
On September 14th Begunto entered dispute after weeks of negotiations that went nowhere. On September 16th we had our first striking member. The purpose of the strike is to realize the Union’s demand that our member, Matthew Wiegand, be reinstated in his job. We aim to protect members against unfair dismissals.

A message from Tozen Union President, Okunuki Hifumi, (16 September 2021):

Today, 13 years after its founding and now part of Tozen Union, our local Begunto has begun a new fight – this time not for more money but rather to protect the job of one of our members.  At 7:40 pm this evening, our member Yancey walked off the job – on strike to push Berlitz management to reinstate our member Matt Wiegand.

Begunto (Berlitz General Union Tokyo)  has a history going back to 1994, the year of its founding (then part of NUGW Tokyo Nambu).  Over the next 27 years, Begunto has blazed a wide trail for language teachers in Japan, with enormous victories that changed the language school industry. In 2007, the  union launched an intense, twelve-month strike to raise wages across the board by 4.6%, something unheard of among any teacher unions, let alone one with mostly foreign teachers. Berlitz Japan made two offers, but Begunto rejected them as too little.  (See the wikipedia entry for this historic strike)

This fight is Tozen Union’s fight as much as Begunto’s fight. We will fight together to protect all our members’  job from reckless firings like this one.  We will update you on events that all Tozen members can join to help us win.

In solidarity,
Hifumi Okunuki
Tozen Union Executive President

Tozen Union Scores Paid Leave Win Over JCFL

Tozen Union members Todd, Tim, and Mark won a crucial court victory Friday over Japan College of Foreign Languages (Bunsai Gakuen). The school had denied paid leave to the teachers who work on zero-hour contracts, claiming that intervals between the one-semester contracts disrupt the continuity of their employment and therefore preclude any right to paid leave.

Tokyo District Court ruled that their employment is effectively continuous enough to claim the legal minimum allotment of paid holidays. The court ordered JCFL to pay for the paid leave already taken, plus interest, and to put up 1% of the plaintiffs’ legal costs.

Management has taken a hard line against Tozen Union and JCFL Workers’ Union in collective bargaining and is expected to appeal to Tokyo High Court. The union members lost a claim that the school’s refusal to give a copy of its work rules constituted power harassment.

東ゼン労組JCFL(日本外国語専門学校)支部組合員であるトッド、ティム、マークは、学校法人文際学園 日本外国語専門学校(JCFL)を相手に、自らの有給休暇の権利を求め、裁判の場で闘ってきましたが、2018112日、東京地方裁判所は、原告勝訴の判決を下しました。なお、本件では、組合員に対して就業規則の付与を拒絶し、その場で書き写すことのみ許可するという対応がパワーハラスメントであるという主張もしましたが、こちらは認められませんでした。

 

学校法人文際学園は、講師の契約を1セメスター=5か月と設定し、契約と契約の間の期間を2か月空けることにより、契約は継続性を持たず、したがって、すべての講師には有給休暇の権利は一切発生しないという扱いをしてきました。16年勤続の組合員も、これまで有給は「ゼロ」だったのです。本判決では、たとえ契約と契約との間に2か月のインターバルがあったとしても、契約の継続性は認められると判断したのであり、大変重要な内容を含んでいます。同じような働き方をしている人たちにも、大きな影響を及ぼすものと思われます。

 

学園はこれまでと同様、控訴して徹底抗戦するでしょう。私たちも、団結の力を緩めることなく、これからも組合を挙げて闘い続けてまいります。

 

引き続き、みなさまの心強いご支援、ご指導を、どうぞ宜しくお願い申し上げます。

Tozen Union Wins Berlitz Pension Suit, but …

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.

Undeterred, Co sued the agency in January 2012. “I wanted part-timers to have the right to enroll.”image

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.)

English:

Japanese:

Japan is not an “at will” employment country.

Many of our members are not Japanese and work at small or very small companies. Working at small companies has many advantages: it’s often more human and you have a direct relationship with the boss. However, if there are problems, those good points often turn into bad ones, since you can be on the receiving end of arbitrary decisions that are difficult to remedy, especially if you do not know your rights. Let’s take an example of a common problem that we at Tozen have to deal with quite often: illegal dismissal.

Read more

Tozen Vlog for May 18, 2014

ICCに対する次の裁判の期日 ~ ICC Court Date

tozen vs. icc
Tozen vs. ICC

東ゼン労祖はICCという外国語学校に対して紛争中です。ICCは、昨年、ブルキッチ組合員を違法に解雇しました。
我々の次の法廷は、6/12(木)13:10 より、横浜地方裁判所502号室です。
みなさんの連帯をよろしくお願いします。

Tozen union is currently in dispute with language school ICC over their illegal firing of Sulejman Brkic.
Our next court hearing in TOZEN vs. ICC LANGUAGE SCHOOL is on JUNE 12 at 13:10 at Yokohama District Court room 502.

All supporters are welcome to attend.

Tozen Vlog for April 8, 2014

Tozen Vlog for April 2, 2014 – Redacted Due to Victory!