October 8, 2011
On October 1st, at an Interac training session in Miyagi, a member of the Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (aka Tozen) was politely handing out a version of this flyer to the ALTs that were arriving for training. Members of management came outside to tell the union member, who is not employed by Interac, that he could not pass out flyers and had to leave. Our member corrected the managers, telling them that he was perfectly within his legal rights to pass out information such as this flyer and he continued to pass them out to anyone who would take them.
Interac then apparently called the police! When the police arrived, our member corrected them as well; reminding them that he did not, in fact, need a permit to pass out flyers.
Interac gave all of their trainees pizza during lunch, so that effectively kept them from going outside to meet the evil union member (it would not the first time that has happened). Eventually, they did have to let the teachers leave, and our member then passed out some more information to anyone who would take it at that time as well.
Perhaps Interac has something against the dissemination of information?
Perhaps Interac just doesn’t like teachers to know their rights?
Perhaps we will find out in collective bargaining…
October 1, 2010
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:
To: All instructors
From: Kevin Salthouse, General Manager, Human Resources and Class Management
Subject: Response to rumors concerning the financial stability of Interac.
Date: September 26, 2010
Earlier this month, I wrote a message in the ‘Interac-shin’ newsletter announcing that the Selnate Group was re-organizing into a new group under the Interac name. This change will be effective October 1, 2010.
Unfortunately, comments have been made on the forums of some well-known websites this weekend suggesting that Interac may be in financial difficulty or be going bankrupt. I am deeply concerned that such rumors may cause you worry and stress. So, let me categorically state that Interac is financially stable and in absolutely NO danger of going bankrupt. I would like to put an end to such rumors here and now. Nor will the re-organization have any impact on your jobs or working conditions.
September 26, 2010
For those of you that did not get the memo, Interac is about to go through some big changes. I have heard two very different announcements on the subject. From Kevin Salthouse, we all have this PDF file stating that Interac will be going through a “new phase of operations” and that this is just a “reorganization”. The General Union in Osaka however, has uncovered more details that point towards a new aquisition and a buyout by Advantage Partners, a company that describes its own business model as “Direct private equity investment via start-up and acquisition”.
It appears that Interac as we know it may be completely taken over and dissolved, although we may not know for sure until October first. Interac recently lost its right to do business with Osaka prefecture BoEs when it was found guilty of an Unfair Labor Practice against the General Union and of interfering in union business. Our members that have sued Interac have also won several court cases, meaning even more financial punishment.
When I originally heard of the name change and the association with bankruptcy, I was a bit skeptical. I thought Interac may have been changing names to avoid paying the damages to union members and as a way to get around the recent ruling that prevents them from doing business in Osaka prefectural BoEs. This certainly would not have been out of character for them; they have for years had a second name, Maxceed, that they used to double-bid BoEs across the nation. They would submit one bid as Interac, and one bid as Maxceed, and shuffle their ALTs between Maxceed/Interac contracts as needed. I was hired as an ALT for Interac in 2005, and was placed in a city where I was expected to lie to the BoE and tell them that my company was called “Maxceed”. The contract between the BoE and the dispatch company said “Maxceed”. My contract with the people in the same office, with the same employees with a different phone number said “Interac”. Also, in the past year, ALTs have complained to us that their time is split between “Maxceed” and “Interac” so that Interac can pretend that the ALT has two part time jobs, instead of a full time job and have an excuse to avoid giving the ALT full time benefits. If Interac is going to be dissolved, these kinds of practices never favored the ALT’s working conditions, and they will not be missed.
Whether Interac will be going fully under or whether things will really just be “reorganized”, my personal concern, shared among my fellow union members, is centered on the stability of employment for the foreign teachers in Japan. I am urging every ALT in Interac/Maxceed/every-other-dispatch-company-in-Japan to band together, unionize and fight back to improve working conditions for yourselves and for the people who will want to come to Japan and teach here in the future. Demand to be directly hired! Every Interac/Maxceed contract I have ever seen has either been
1) illegal according to the The Ministry of Education guidelines concerning proper dispatch methods or
2) has enough clauses in it that violate Labor Standards/Trade Union Law that the whole thing is null and void.
If you unionize and claim your right to be directly hired, the BoEs will not be able to ignore you. I have seen it myself; the when I was in Osaka and a member of the General Union, we forced my BoE to direct hire, and the ALTs there are in a much better position today than they were in 2005.
If you are tired of the instability of your job, of getting reduced or no pay for March or August, of getting penalized for being sick, then you should force the BoE to take responsibility. Unionize, and demand direct employment and the full benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
August 26, 2010
Cross posted from the General Union.
Let’s all work together for ALTs to be directly hired.
Interac has been found guilty of unfair labour practices by the Osaka Prefectural Labour Commission in July 2010 for refusing to hold collective bargaining with the General Union (full story here).
Osaka prefectural ordinances prevent companies found in violation of Trade Union Law from bidding on public projects. The General Union, along with allied unions from Osaka Union Network and Osaka Zenrokyo have submitted demands to the Governor of Osaka Prefecture, Toru Hashimoto, that Prefectural ordinances be enforced.
As a result, Osaka Prefecture has now informed all divisions of the prefectural government, including the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education, that they may no longer enter into contracts with Interac. Furthermore, Osaka Prefecture has summoned Interac to explain the situation, placing further pressure on the company to obey the Trade Union Law and negotiate.
The union’s victory at the Labour Commission and its subsequent economic impact on Interac will go along way in making sure that not only Interac, but other employers trying to evade their legal obligations, negotiate with the union in the future.
July 5, 2010
Cross-posted from the General Union in Osaka:
5 Jul 2010
Health Checks – They’re mandatory!
Interac ordered to obey the law
Industrial Health & Safety Act
For many westerners, the idea of a state mandated health check smacks of a nanny state, and we are often reluctant to submit to the tests. While not all companies obey this law, the fact remains it is compulsory for all employees to have an annual health check under article 66 of the act.
May 3, 2010
This is just more reason to unionize. Stop illegal dispatching and claim higher wages and better benefits. Don’t be taken advantage of by these middlemen and these Boards of Education that want to hire you without paying you what they should and without affording you what is rightfully yours under Japanese law. This “cooling off period” is just a way to get around dispatch law, which clearly states that the dispatched should be directly hired after a clearly defined amount of time. The labor office’s guidelines do not trump the law, and if ALTs in Chiba stand up to this, there is a good chance that they can end this illegal dispatching, claiming more money and more rights for themselves under the law.
KASHIWA, Chiba — Public schools here have been unable to start their native speaker-taught English classes this school year after the city’s board of education was accused of violating labor laws with foreign language teachers.
According to the Kashiwa Municipal Board of Education, it has been instructed by the local labor office to change its labor relationship with foreign assistant language teachers (ALTs) in the city’s elementary and junior high schools after it engaged in illegal employment practices.
April 8, 2010
Cross-posted from the Fukuoka General Union.
Throughout Japan Boards of Education have been moving away from the JET program in favour of outsourcing ALT jobs to dispatch companies. In Fukuoka it has come to the point that most BOEs subcontract out their work.
This page is aimed to shed some light on the current systems that operate to the detriment of ALTs – who are practically all non-Japanese (NJ).
August 31, 2009
Recently in the news, an NihonTerebi (Channel 4 in the Tokyo area) story focused on trials that a lot of ALTs face, focusing on the fact that not only are these creating a less than optimal working enviornment for foreign teachers but also that many of the contracts are Illegal.
The reporters that researched the story surveyed the greater Tokyo/Kanto area to see which Boards of Education (BOEs) were using dispatch contracts that are considered legal, and which BOEs were using illegal contracts. A graphic supplied during the report showed that a large swath of the Tokyo area was highlighted in red, the color used to indicate a BOE that is currently using an illegal contract.
Continue reading to see the videos:
July 25, 2009
Recently announced changes to immigration guidelines link your visa to enrollment in government approved health insurance. This means kokumin kenko hoken or shakai hoken/shigaku kyosai (Employee’s health & Pension).