Nova teachers demand unpaid wages

The labor union of scandal-tainted language school operator Nova Corp. filed a request with labor standards supervision authorities Thursday to order the company to pay wages in arrears to its foreign teachers, union officials said.

The industry giant, already embroiled in a scandal related to its fraudulent advertising practices, has failed to pay September wages, which were supposed to be delivered on the 15th, to its foreign teachers, except for those in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, the officials said. Some 5,000 foreign teachers are registered with Nova nationwide.

Officials of Nova’s General Union also said the monthly salaries of its 2,000 Japanese employees were paid late nationwide in July and August.

Katsuji Yamahara, chairman of Nova’s general union, which includes foreign teachers, criticized Nova for failing to explain the reasons for the delayed salaries, calling the repeated practice “malicious.”

Yamahara told a news conference that Nova may have incurred about ¥10 billion in losses, pointing out that it failed to return tuition fees as scheduled to students who canceled their contracts.

He said the union will ask the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ? which regulates Nova and other English-language school operators ? in October to extend assistance to the company so it can avoid bankruptcy.

An Australian citizen teaching for Nova said that because the company is still looking for teachers, he is worried foreigners may apply for jobs without knowing about the delayed paychecks.

The Osaka-based company has been seeing a drop in enrollment and a rise in cancellations since the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ordered it to partially suspend operations in mid-June for deceiving consumers about its services in its advertisements.

On Sept. 20, it was reported that Nova is planning to close at least 200 of its roughly 900 school branches later this month in an effort to revamp its operations. Immediately after the news, the labor union demanded that the company proceed with caution to avoid any adverse effects on teachers and students as a result of the closures.