Open Letter to Kevin Salthouse

Kevin Salthouse,

I am glad to hear that the new Interac is “financially stable”. With this financial stability, I can think of no better way to move from “strength to strength” than by improving the working conditions of all of your ALTs. Here are a few suggestions that I personally think would benefit all ALTs:

1) Employment classification:
Hire all ALTs as full time employees (一般会社員). No contracts, just normal employees with the same pay in August, March and April as the rest of the months. This will give your ALTs more stable pay year round, and they will not have to fight so hard to claim their rights as employees.

I have seen many contracts between BoEs and Interac, and I know that, although it will cut into the profit margins, Interac can afford it. Interac is, after all, “financially stable”.

2) Insurance:
It is still amazing to me how many ALTs arrive to work for Interac in Japan, and have no idea that they are required by law to sign up for government run insurance. Sign up all of your ALTs for Shakai Hoken. According to the government of Japan, even part-time employees are eligible, the “29.5 hours a week” excuse that many employers implement does not in fact disqualify anyone from Shakai Hoken.
One of the biggest reasons to have Shakai Hoken is that it protects a sick employee from going bankrupt by paying out a portion of the employee’s wages if they are incapacitated or hospitalized and cannot work for a few months.
This can be very valuable for any employee, but even more so when the employee’s family is thousands of miles away. Surely this kind stability is not too much for a “financially stable” company like Interac.

3) Unemployment insurance:
In 2007 and 2008, I had to fight for about ten months to force Interac to sign me up for unemployment insurance. If not for the help of my fellow General Union members, I probably wouldn’t have been signed up for it at all. It took a lot of paperwork, a lot of translation work, and a lot of time corresponding with “Hello Work”, just to get a little financial stability that I had the right to in the first place.

In the past few years since that time, the laws changed to make it harder for companies to avoid paying for Unemployment Insurance, but Interac ALTs have reported that their hours are being split between “Maxceed” and “Interac” and that is used to justify not giving them Unemployment Insurance. Why? Unemployment Insurance is based on a very small percentage of an employee’s wages and it is definitely something that a “financially stable” company like Interac can afford. Surely someone with your experience would agree that stable working conditions create a stronger workforce? Why not just give all of your ALTs that peace of mind without forcing any of them to fight for it? Especially when they are all qualified for it anyway?

I have a few questions as well. Feel free to answer them in an email to your employees as you usually do:

1) With this merger, is the company name “Maxceed”, a part of the Selti group along with Interac, being absorbed into the new Interac name as well?

2) If so, will you
a) have to rewrite contracts with BoEs to keep those contracts?
b) cease double bidding the same BoE with multiple names? I guess you will
have to stop unless you will create a new name right?
c) cease using a second company name to justify not signing up ALTs for Unemployment Insurance as previously mentioned?

3) Does the new Interac plan to pay recent damages to union members that it has been ordered to pay without trying to argue that the victories were against a prior company?

4) Will the new Interac hold collective bargaining with the General Union as it was ordered by the Osaka Labor Commission? Will it hold collective bargaining with the GU’s sister unions as well such as the Fukuoka General Union, Tokyo Nambu and the Tokyo General Union when requested as is required by law?

5) Interac was ordered by the Osaka Labor Commission to hand deliver an apology to the General Union for failing to hold collective bargaining.
This still hasn’t taken place.
When will it take place?
As a former GU member myself, I can tell you that it would mean a lot to me personally to see this take place. To me it would indicate a more transparent Interac, with a greater respect for labor and trade union law than what I, and certain government agencies, perceive the “old” Interac to have had.

Yours in solidarity, looking forward to a new Interac.
Erich Manning
Tokyo General Union ALT Branch

Tokyo General Union
TEL: 050-3488-6734 FAX: 050-3488-6734

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