Shane Workers Union’s recent strikes

You might have thought the Shane Workers Union (SWU) had gone quiet, or weren’t doing much over the lockdown, but the members were all quite active. Meetings went from a monthly thing to an almost weekly activity, and the fire in the members hearts was burning and growing.

The members were angry at Shane’s lack of decent guidance during the pandemic and angry at management’s refusal of collective bargaining(CB). The anger increased further when – after two months of refusal – management eventually met the union for CB on 15th June 2020, and offered little in the way of negotiation. The company even claimed that they didn’t even know the legal classification of the pay they gave us during the April and May lockdown.

Shane had decided that during the lockdown they would pay the workers 100% of their salary (woohoo!) as an advance (boo!) on future work. This goes against Article 17 of the Labour Standards Act, “Pay shall not be made for advanced work” and against the government’s appeals to employers to pay workers a full furlough. The government is providing financial assistance to employers to cover the costs of furloughing employees.

As the lockdown ended, the company stated that workers would have to make up 30+ days of work for free. To do this, the company unilaterally changed the working calendar with no negotiation with, or consent from, the workers, changing both training days and paid leave days to working days. This meant most workers would lose most of their holidays.

Shane also decided that the company would reclaim wages from the counselors (receptionists), horrifying them and teachers.  The union did what we could to help counselors and want to do more.

As the new working days that were once training days and holidays approached, workers became agitated and angry at the exploitation.
The week leading up to one of the first new working days Saturday, June 27th was filled with discussion and talks of how teachers could stop their work being exploited, and ourthe main response was “withhold your labour.”
This must have hit a certain spot with people, as on Thursday 25th June, 9 people took strike action, with 3 people joining the union through the strike.

These new members and older ones continued to respond to other workers’ frustrations at the company’s changes to the work calendar, by suggesting that they also take action.

The company sent out an “Agreement on Planned Paid Leave Addendum” for workplace representatives to sign on Friday 26th June. This addendum stated that the company would be able to change the paid leave schedule with 7 days notice, and that the company and employees would have to comply with the changes.
It meant that the company wanted the ability to change annual paid leave with no negotiation. Teachers were furious. 

All day Friday, Orren (President of the SWU) and Mizuho (Case Officer for the SWU) received strike proposals, some from old members and some from new recruits.
This culminated in an action on Saturday 27th June 2020 with 23 people striking across the company, including 11 people joining the union through strike action.

On Monday 29th June 2020, the company sent out a message with two options from which each teacher must choose. This circumvented any negotiation with the union:

  1. Go back to the old calendar, but pay back over 40% of your wages, and count the previous pay as a furlough.
  2. Continue with the new calendar, and keep 100% of what has already been paid, however ½ of the make-up days would be cut.

The SWU’s #1 strike demand at the moment is that the company furlough its workers during the lockdown at 100% with no obligation to make up the days.
So we cannot accept either of these offers, and the fight will continue.

In the letter containing the 2 proposed options, the company acknowledges Article 17 and Article 26 of the Labour Standards Act. They mention that Article 17 states that salary cannot be paid in advance, but say nothing else about it. Despite this being the action that Shane took.

Shane misrepresents Article 26 and makes it sound like they would have had to pay only 60% as a furlough, not that they would have had to pay at least 60%. They also claimed that paying 60% might have caused “severe financial difficulties” for staff, never letting slip that 60% is the minimum, or that the government offered Payroll Protection Program assistance to companies that furloughed their employees.

On Tuesday 30th of June, we managed another large strike action of 19 people, with one teacher joining the union through strike action. More schools closed for the day.

Today, on Wednesday 1st of July, we had our 2nd largest strike yet, with 22 people striking, 4 of which joined through striking. Once again, the company was unable to cover all of the strikers.

These large strike actions have doubled the size of the union, and all new members seem very motivated about how they can help the union going forwards to realise the demands.

The hard work of everyone over the past week has been incredible to see. It amazes what people can do when they unite for a cause.

The Shane Workers Union is not anti-company. We are not anti-work. We love our work. We just want to make this a workplace that everyone can be proud of. We look forward to negotiating with the company in the future.

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.

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Tozen Union Virtual May Day 東ゼン労組電脳メーデー

悪夢のようなコロナ禍を背景に、不要不急とされている労働者の多くは、自らの身を危険にさらして職場に出勤するか、収入減または収入ゼロを覚悟して自宅待機をするという無情な選択肢を迫られています。労働組合として、私たちは、コロナウィルスの拡大阻止と労働者の命と生活を共に守るための措置を、断固要求しなければなりません。

私たちは、2020年5月1日(金)午後2時より、世界初の「電脳メーデー」(オンラインによるメーデー)を開催します。東ゼン労組のメーデーのテーマは「コロナの収束」と「所得保障」という二本の柱からなります。生活費が底をつき、家賃やローン等を支払えない労働者に対して、所得保障のうえで自宅待機を徹底することが絶対に必要です。

「オンラインによるメーデー」っていったいナニ?と思うでしょう。社前で行われる抗議行動なら、東ゼン労組の幟、腕章、要求事項が記載された配布ビラなどがあり、申入れ、路上演説後シュプレヒコールで締めるのが通常のスタイルです。東ゼン労組の「電脳メーデー」は、街に出て声を上げる代わりに、オンラインツール「Zoom」によって、街頭での行動と全く同じ目的を果たすものです。

東ゼン労組の電脳メーデーは、国と使用者に、一人残らず全ての労働者の命を守ることを要求します。不要不急の業界の労働者に対しては、在宅勤務、自宅待機に全額の賃金を、そして、必要不可欠な緊迫した現場で、私たち社会の安全のために今も働いている労働者たちに対しては、「危険手当」の上乗せ支給を求めます。

今こそ、万国の労働者よ、電脳空間で団結しよう!!

Against the backdrop of this nightmarish pandemic, many workers in nonessential industries face an awful dilemma – commute to work, and risk their own and the public health, or stay at home with no or far less income. As a union, we must call for the resolution of both crises, protecting health and income.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, beginning 2pm, we will hold the world’s first virtual street protest. Tozen Union will fight for two pillars for workers – corona containment and income security. Don’t ask workers to stay at home without ensuring they can pay rent and other bills. We must have both and have them now.

What the heck is a “virtual street protest”? At ordinary street protests, we raise the Tozen Union flag, wear armbands, pass out a leaflet with demands, make speeches and a series of shprehicall chants. We state our demands to the public and call out management. Tozen Union Virtual Mayday will do all that over the teleconferencing platform Zoom.

Tozen Union Virtual May Day’s overall theme is that governments and employers must take care of workers, meaning fully pay those in non-essential industries to stay or work at home and guarantee extra hazard pay to heroic essential workers on the frontlines of the war against the virus.

Workers of the world, unite in cyberspace!

             

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.”

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シェーン英会話講師の逆転勝訴、司法誌労働判例のトップを飾る。Tozen Teacher’s Victory Over Shane Makes Top Story in Prestigious Judicial Review Rodo Hanrei

東ゼン労組シェーン支部の東京高裁事件が2020年2月15日号の労働判例に掲載されました。労使協定のない計画年休と英会話講師に対する雇止めに関する記事です。
東ゼン労組の組合員であるアダム・クリーブ氏は、ストライキによる欠勤は契約更新拒否の正当な理由にはならないため、雇用契約は当然更新されるべきでした。東京高裁は、シェーンコーポレーションに対し、解雇を撤回し復職させ、2年半分の未払い賃金を支払うよう命令を下した。

Tokyo High Court ruled that an employe cannot desginate paid leave without a written roshi kyotei agreement with the employee rep; and that Shane mangement had no such agreement.

Tozen Union member Adam Cleeve had a reasonable expectation to renew his contract, and his strike related attendance issues cannot be considered when refusing renewal.

The court overturned the dismissal, ordered Shane to take him back to work, and pay 2.5 years of lost wages.

有料記事ですが興味のある方はぜひご覧ください。
The article is behind a paywall, but if you’re interested please check it out.

https://www.e-sanro.net/magazine_jinji/rodohanrei/d20200215.html

東ゼン大学 Tozen Daigaku

東ゼン大学のお知らせ  2020年2月から毎月、日本の労働法についての講義を東ゼン大学の事務所で行います。 英語と日本語での講義で、最後に質問コーナーも行います。 定員が30名となっておりますので、お早めの予約をお願いいたします。出席できない方は、Youtube上でライブ配信も行いますので、ぜひチェックしてください (https://youtu.be/lNukN-kdS6o)。 詳細は以下のリンク、またはチラシをご覧ください。

We will have Tozen Daigaku on Japanese Labour Law at the Tozen Union office every month from February. The lectures will be in Japanese and English. At the end of the lectures we will hold a Q & A session. Attendance is limited to a maximum of 30 people, so please reserve in advance. If you can’t attend, we will also live stream the events on Youtube (https://youtu.be/lNukN-kdS6o). Please check the link below to reserve your place for the first Tozen Daigaku.
https://forms.gle/8vTDGW29q8iV9KKX7

We are also starting FREE Japanese lessons with a focus on Labour Law language every Sunday at 10:00am from 16/02/2020 at the Tozen Union Office.

労働法日本語講座を毎週日曜日、午前10時に行います。お気軽にお越しください。初回は2020/02/16です。

東ゼン労組vs桜美林大学 Tozen Union Vs. Oberlin University

The members of the Oberlin University local

2020年1月17日(金)、東ゼン労組は桜美林大学団交拒否の事件における東京都労働委員会の第一期日を行った。今回の期日では大きな進歩が見られた。学校側は、団交の通訳者を手配すること、また職場における主たる言語(英語)で交渉することに合意した。組合と学校側は、数週間後に再度団交における基本的なルールを決定するために話し合いを行う。現在に至るまでどの問題にも解決の兆しが見られなかった組合としては、今回の期日は解決へ向けての第一歩であった。

On Friday 17th January 2020, Tozen Union had its first hearing at Tokyo Labour Comission for the case of Oberlin University’s refusal to negotiate at Collective Bargaining. We have made a great deal of progress. Management has agreed to bring an interpreter to Collective bargaining so our members can communicate in the language of labor relations, which is English. The union and the university will meet over the next couple of weeks and attempt to set ground rules for collective bargaining sessions. While we have not addressed every issue, this hearing was a step in the right direction.  

中曽根氏、宿敵の「労働組合」との仁義なき戦い

中曽根康弘元首相が2019年11月29日、101歳で亡くなった。1971年生まれの筆者にとって、中曽根氏は良くも悪くも鮮明に記憶に残る総理大臣の一人である。日本の戦後の総理大臣は概して「調整役」的存在に徹し、カリスマ性が求められてこなかったなか、中曽根氏はもしかしたら、初めてカリスマを志向した総理大臣だったかもしれない。“ロン・ヤス関係”と呼ばれた、アメリカのレーガン元大統領との“日米蜜月関係”の構築は、日本の「対米従属化」をいっそう加速させたといえるかもしれない。だが、当時中学生~高校生の子どもだった筆者の目には、初めて日本の首相が、アメリカと“対等に”そして“フレンドリーに”交渉する姿を見た気がした。それは単純に、彼の身長が178センチとこれまでの総理大臣の中では群を抜いて高く、アメリカ大統領と並んだときに引けをとらなかったという視覚的な印象もあるだろう。

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