English instructors hired illegally: union

A labor union of foreign workers requested Monday that the Aichi prefectural board of education address the concerns of English-language instructors at public schools who they say are working under illegal contracts.

The [NUGW Tokyo Nambu sister union] General Union, based in the city of Osaka, said an investigation it conducted last month and communications with municipal boards of education show that foreign teaching assistants in 16 school districts in the prefecture are contracted by private language schools or other agents rather than the school boards themselves.

The union charges that by going through agencies, the school boards are “avoiding the obligation of hiring them directly that comes after a certain period of (temporary) employment has elapsed.”

“It is lowering the quality of education as the situation generates anxiety (among instructors) about their employment and does not guarantee continuity in classroom teaching,” the union said.

The union alleges the instructors’ employment terms are in violation of the Worker Dispatch Law.

The Tokai municipal board of education is “especially malicious in that (it) has refused a demand for collective bargaining,” the union said. It filed an appeal with the Aichi labor bureau to address the situation with the Tokai board.

In 2007, English-language instructors in 23 school districts in Osaka Prefecture faced a similar employment issue. After the revelation of their situation, the local labor bureau issued instructions and the municipal boards of education switched to direct hiring or legal labor contracting.