Tozen Union Wins Precedent-Setting Negotiating Language Case Against Tokyo Gakugei University

The Tokyo Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ordered Tokyo Gakugei University to “engage in collective bargaining without insisting it be conducted in Japanese or that (the union) bring an interpreter.”

In the first case of its kind, Tozen Union and the TGUISS Teachers Union had sued the school for making negotiations in Japanese a condition of holding collective bargaining.
The university argued that talks should be in Japanese because “this is Japan” and that forcing management to negotiate in a foreign language would be an intolerable burden.

The unions countered that the day-to-day language or labor relations (LLR) is English, so collective bargaining (CB) should also be in the LLR.
Management is happy to arrange interpreting for foreigners when giving work orders and unilaterally deciding work conditions but balks when it comes to a venue like CB where workers have a say.

The commission also ordered the school to send an apology for refusing CB the union within a week of the ruling. Management has two weeks to appeal the decision at the Central Labor Relations Board.

For questions or comments, contact Case Officer Gerome Rothman

tozen.rothman@gmail.com.

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