Tozen Union hits streets in record numbers to push for better conditions at Shane, Kanda Gaigo, Interac

Tozen’s historic Ichinichi Kodo All-Day Action fights for job security, higher wages; breaks through factionalism

Dec. 21, 2021. Under the crisp blue skies of Winter Solstice, Tozen Union held its first ever Ichinichi Kodo All-Day Action.

 Teachers at three local chapters of Tozen Union raised their fists and voices in front of each employer, demanding job security, Shakai Hoken health and pension, and a living wage.

 In addition to Tozen’s long-allied independent unions, all three national labor federations (Rengo, Zenroren, and Zenrokyo) joined the action, warming our hearts on this first day of winter.

 Rengo Tokyo provided the sound car for the day.

 Joining Tozen for the fight were: Japan Labour Soviet (Rohyo), General Support Union (GSU, affiliated with NPO Posse), Shutoken Union of University Part-Time Lecturers in Tokyo Area and the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Tobu (Tobu Roso).

 This day in Tozen history represented a pushback against the chronic factionalism of Japan’s labor movement. The faction-transcending unity made us forget the cold and gave management a peek at the kind of solidarity arrayed against them.

 More than 50 Tozen and allied members squeezed into a tight, thin line on a sliver of sidewalk in front of the Shane HQ office. In a large voice, we demanded the English conversation school give us job security and Shakai Hoken.

 Our displeasure at relentless management attacks against workers and the union during this protracted labor dispute burst forth over the speakers of our sound truck. A contingent of Shane members went into the HQ office to submit a written appeal. A manager took it, then flippantly remarked ‘Merry Christmas.’ Our Shane local won’t rest until they win stable working conditions.

 The throng walked a block away to Kanda University of Foreign Studies (KUIS). We demanded the school remove its unilateral and arbitrary 6-year limit on employment and agree to open-ended employment for teachers. These educating every day show pride and passion in inspiring the minds of their students.

 These teachers want to continue to teach beyond the six years, but the university administration asserts that after six years they are no longer capable of creating anything new. Kaiten (rotation) is necessary to keep the education development fresh, management insists. Members angrily shouted that “KUIS teachers are not dried out conveyor belt sushi!”

 The crowd traveled by subway to Ginza, to the headquarters of ALT-dispatcher Interac. We protested the company’s refusal to provide a living way or enroll ALTs in Shakai Hoken. A contingent separated, entered the high-rise office building, and rode the lift to Interac headquarters. There, they tried to hand over a written appeal. Management made them wait for over 20 minutes. The delegation decided to send it later by post; they returned to the lively protest down on street level to give a report to their comrades.

 One university student from GSU recounted how an ALT (assistant language teacher) had helped her learn ‘living English.’ She called on the company to recognize a living wage and said that ALTs are not ‘assistants.’

 We finished with a sprechchor, bringing life to the soul of workers, who know no faction, under the Ginza winter sky in the middle of the big city

 The labor unions and individuals who joined us in solidarity made this historic day possible.

東ゼン労組、労働条件向上を求めシェーン、神田外語大、インタラック前で過去最大規模の抗議

2021/12/21 東ゼン労組1日行動:安心して生活できる労働条件をかけた闘い!

2021年12月21日、冬至の晴れ渡った空の下、東ゼン労組史上初の一日行動をおこなった。

 東ゼン労組の3支部―シェーン英会話、神田外語大学、インタラックで働く教員たちは、各職場の前で、安定した雇用、生活できるだけの賃金の確保、社会保険加入を求め、こぶしを挙げて声を上げた。

 この1日行動には、長きにわたり連帯関係を結んでいる無所属独立系の労組のほか、3つのナショナルセンター(連合、全労連、全労協)に所属する労働組合も揃って参加してくださり、非常に温かくかつ心強い応援をいただいた。

 連合東京、日本労働評議会(労評)、全国一般東京東部労働組合(東部労組)、総合サポートユニオン、首都圏大学非常勤講師組合、それぞれの組合が党派を超えた同じ労働者として、共に怒りの拳を突き上げ、生活できる労働条件を求めて声を上げてくれた。その姿に、冬の寒さを忘れるほど胸が熱くなった。経営者に労働者の団結の力を余すところなく見せつけることができた1日行動となった。

 まずは、英会話学校のシェーン本社前で、50人超が狭い歩道に一列に並び、雇用の安定、社会保険加入、労使紛争の解決を求め声を上げた。経営側の組合員に対する攻撃が後を絶たず、紛争が未解決のまま長期化していることへの不満が噴出した。申入れ団が申入書を手渡しに行ったところ、経営者は「メリークリスマス」と軽く言い放ったということである。それでもシェーン支部は決してあきらめない。安心して働くことができる労働条件を求め続けていく。

 次は、シェーン英会話から100メートル離れたところにある神田外語大学に場所を移した。日々学生の教育のために誇りと情熱をもって仕事に打ち込んでいる教員たちに対して、大学側は無期雇用への転換を認めず、6年間でさようなら、と一方的に雇用を断ち切ろうとしている。教員はみんな、もっともっと働きたいと切望している。そんな教員たちに対して大学側は「6年も働いている教員に新しい教授方法を開発することはできない」と言い捨て、より“新鮮な”教員を採用するのだと言ってはばからない。「私たちは回転すしの干からびた寿司でではない!」と怒りの声を上げた。

 その後、場所を銀座に移し、外国語指導助手(ALT)を派遣する大手であるインタラック前で、生活ができる賃金と社会保険加入を求め声を上げた。申入団は、立派な高層ビルの本社事務所に上がり、申入書を渡そうと試みた。しかし経営側20分以上待たせたうえに、申入書を受け取る勇気がない様子であったため、申入団は仲間が声を上げる社前に戻り、再びアピールを続けた。

 総合サポートユニオンの大学生は、自分の高校時代の英語の先生(ALT)について、「ALTの先生は“助手”ではないと思います。私は、ALTの先生がいたからこそ、生きた英語を学ぶことができました」と語り、ALTの待遇改善に向けて力強いアピールを寄せてくれた。

 最後に、全員でシュプレヒコールをおこない、大都会の銀座の冬空に、党派を超えた労働者の魂の叫びが響き渡った。

 さいごに、今回の東ゼン労組の1日行動に連帯し、参加いただいたすべての労働組合、個人の方々に、心から感謝したい。

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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労働実態踏まえ社保加入認める…東京地裁判決

労働時間が正社員の4分の3未満であることを理由に社会保険の加入資格を失うのは不当として、東京都内の英会話学校に勤める男性講師が日本年金機構に加入資格の確認を求めた訴訟で、東京地裁は17日、男性は保険に加入できるとの判決を言い渡した。舘内比佐志裁判長は、労働時間だけでなく報酬額や職務内容などを総合的に考慮して「加入資格があった」と判断した。

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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:

厚生年金未加入200万人、79万事業所調査へ

塩崎厚生労働相は13日の衆院予算委員会で、厚生年金に加入する資格があるのに未加入になっている人が約200万人に上るとの推計を明らかにした。塩崎氏は「(本来は)厚生年金に入れるのに国民年金であるならば大変な問題だ」と述べた。

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For Japan’s English teachers, rays of hope amid the race to the bottom

The major economic engines of Japan Inc. — car manufacturers, appliance giants and the like — have often been caught price-fixing: colluding to keep an even market share, squeeze competitors out and maintain “harmony.” Similarly, the commercial English-teaching business could be accused of wage-fixing: Rather than competing for talent, they have followed one another’s lead, driving down salaries to hamper career development, limit job mobility and keep foreign teachers firmly in their place.

We’ve all heard the tale of the scorpion and the frog. In a rising flood, the scorpion asks the frog for a piggy-back ride across the river. The frog refuses, complaining that the scorpion will sting it to death midway. The scorpion assures the frog it would do no such thing because they would both drown. The frog accepts the logic, lets the scorpion on its back and begins to swim.

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Osaka’s General Union lands major court victory on Shakai Hoken

GU court victory against gov’t over insurance to have major impact

On 20 March at 13:25, the Tokyo District Court ruled on the case of a General Union member who sued the Japanese government in an important test case regarding eligibility for enrollment in the Employees Health and Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).
Read more at the GU website here.

800,000 firms likely dodged pension scheme

The Yomiuri Shimbun

About 800,000 small and midsize companies are strongly suspected of evading their legal obligation to join the public pension scheme for company employees, according to the results of a joint investigation by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Tax Agency.

The ministry identified the companies that have likely not joined the pension scheme by examining data provided by the tax agency.

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