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

置いてけぼりの夏の真ん中 ー2021盛夏、コロナとオリンピックの渦のなかでー Midsummer 2021 – Left to be sucked into the corona-Olympic vortex

奥貫妃文の詩。
A poem by Hifumi Okunuki.
(English is below the Japanese.)

いまは、いったいいつなんだろう。
ここは、いったいどこなんだろう。

東京都新宿区、奥神楽坂の我が家から歩いて3分。
中国人のジャンさんが営む中華料理レストランがあった。
私と夫は頻繁に通っては、裏メニュー「黒酢きゅうり」を頼んでいた。
2021年8月の現在、その店は、もうない。
夜遅くまで客足が絶えず、楽し気な声で満ちていた店は、真っ暗なまま。
がらんどうになった店の入口は、落ち葉の吹き溜まりになっている。
壁には「テナント募集」の張り紙。それもすっかり色褪せ、
今にもはがれそうにカサカサ、カサカサ、と音を立てている。
新しい賃借人が入るのは、いつのことになるだろうか。

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五輪中止オンライン抗議アクション Anti-Olympics Live Stream Candlelit Protest

On Friday 30th July 2021, members of Tozen held a candle-lit online protest calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Tozen Union Opposes the Tokyo Olympics

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:

  • Financial costs
  • Loss of homes
  • Reports of corruption and bribery
  • The militarisation of the police
  • Unsafe temperatures.

フィリピン人家事労働者が抱えている労働問題が記事になりました。 TOZEN mentioned in article about Filipino domestic workers.

Tozen, and our President Okunuki Hifumi, have been mentioned in the following article by Mieko Takenobu about the difficulties that Filipino domestic workers have.

竹信三恵子氏のフィリピン人家事労働者が抱える問題についての記事の中で、東ゼン労組と執行委員長の奥貫妃文についても触れていただきました。

所持金1000円の外国人家政婦たち〜国家戦略特区「家事支援人材制度」の歪み /竹信三恵子

Bread & Roses: Needless Death of a Sri Lankan Detainee

 

SNA (Tokyo) — “Japan is safer than other countries; the Japanese are kind; the streets are clean; and it’s easy to live here.” I hear foreigners say these things. But I also hear it from Japanese who have never lived abroad. The mainstream media’s Nippon Sugoi! campaign is working, perhaps, but it’s not far off from the nation’s general reputation. But read on: The current reality may blow your image of my country to smithereens. Can such a thing be happening in Japan in 2021?

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Bread & Roses: Osaka Court Overturns Welfare Cut

SNA (Tokyo) — A Japanese court overturned a welfare reduction for the first time ever on February 22, 2021. The Osaka District Court ruled against the government’s 2013 public assistance reduction of ¥67 billion (US$632 million), marking the first court win for the Inochi no Toride litigation campaign, involving more than 1,000 plaintiffs in 29 prefectures around Japan.

Attorney Tetsuro Kokubo, deputy head of the defense team, said, “This is the first time in my long career as a lawyer that I cried when I heard the verdict.” The comment poignantly conveys the challenges of fighting state power.

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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.

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Tozen Vlog for May 18, 2014