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…
March 6, 2011
It is that time of year again! Time for the mad scramble of March when good teachers everywhere are worried if their contracts are going to be renewed or not, otherwise known as the “ALT Shuffle”. Two things you should be sure NOT to do:
1) Do NOT let your employer force you to sign resignation papers! You do not need to sign any such thing. If they do not have work for you, they should give you dismissal papers so that you can claim your unemployment benefits until you find your next job.
2) Do NOT let your employer threaten you into leaving your apartment. It does not matter whether your employer is your guarantor or not, you can pay your landlord directly. Tenant’s rights are strong in Japan, but they are non-existant if you do not claim them.
If you find yourself facing either of these situations, call your local union representative to report the harassment.
If you are not in a union, and would like to fight against these kinds of ill treatment, join a union and help improve the working conditions of Japan.
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.
September 21, 2009
Last year when I was in the Osaka based General Union, we received an email from an Interac ALT who was rather upset because she had been fired for being pregnant. Martina (name changed) was set to have her contract renewed with her school where she was loved by her students and teachers. Her contract had already been promised to her verbally and her schools and students were looking forward to her return. Then, people in the Yokohama office found out something that they viewed as a major inconvenience to their business, Martina was pregnant and would be giving birth during the middle of the school year.
They told her that in light of her condition, it would be too much trouble for them to find a replacement in the middle of the school term, and had decided to go with someone else who was less…. pregnant.
September 20, 2009
An article from July that concerns every foreigner working in Japan.
Are you enrolled in Shakai Hoken or did Interac tell you you weren’t eligible? Are you going to have to pay up to two years of back pay into the system next year because Interac/Maxceed did not register you into the system when you started working for them?
Let’s hope not.
By JENNY UECHI
Enrollment in Japan’s health insurance program tied to visa renewal from 2010
By JENNY UECHI
In your wallet or somewhere at home, do you have a blue or pink card showing that you are enrolled in one of Japan’s national health and pension programs? If not, and if you are thinking of extending your stay here, you may want to think about a recent revision to visa requirements for foreign residents. The changes, which the Justice Ministry says were made in order to “smooth out the administrative process,” may have major consequences for foreign residents and their future in Japan.
September 16, 2009
In 2007, I recieved an email from an Interac employee that was interested in being directly hired by his BOE. He had tried in earnest to improve his working conditions through Interac, but they were uninterested in signing him up for Shakai Hoken, unemployment insurance, giving him a raise, etcetera. At the time I was in Osaka, and Iwate (the prefecture north of Tokyo, not the city in Osaka) is quite a long way away from the normal base of operations of Tokyo Nambu, much less Osaka’s General Union Interac Branch. I was not able to meet with him face to face, but I was able to provide him with a lot of information and advice that he was able to use to convince his BOE (Board of Education) that taking the plunge to hire him directly would be in everyone’s best interest. He has now been directly employed since spring of 2008 with no middle-man dispatch company to impede his rights as a worker under Japanese law.
This is his story, in his own words. Enjoy and be inspired. Any other ALTs in Iwate prefecture that want to liberate their BOE from their dispatch company can contact me and I will put you in contact with our friend, “The Abolitionist”.
(NOTE: His experiences and his claims may not match yours exactly. Contracts can have different variables in different parts of the country. They can even be different in the same part of the country, but with different BOEs. If his experience does not match yours exactly, don’t forget to take the possible variations into account.)
From “The Abolitionist” in Iwate Prefecture:
It would be very sad for you, a great ALT, to resign to quitting your job and even leaving Japan, a country you love, because of Interac. Giving that much power to an amoral, impersonal business would indeed be a shame. That’s why I’m writing this. It’s not hopeless. A few years ago I was in this situation but my BOE cut out the middleman and gave me a direct contract. I would like to give you some tips on how to make this happen.
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:
August 13, 2009
My name is Erich and I am a member of Nambu FWC, a former member and a current friend of the Osaka based General Union. I joined the GU a few years ago to improve the working conditions in the city that I lived and worked, Matsubara, Osaka. We in the GU were able to convince/force/persuade the BOE (Board of Education) of Matsubara to hire their ALTs directly, thus improving the working conditions by orders of magnitude. The GU was able to put pressure on other BOEs where our members chose to fight as well, and they were recently able to liberate the city of Hirakata, improving the working conditions
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).
January 6, 2008
An article from January, 2008 about the fact that Interac ALTs do not get all of what they are entitled to by law.
THIS FOREIGN LAND
Assistant language teachers in trying times
By KANAKO TAKAHARA
Last of four parts
In November, Samantha Bouton, an assistant language teacher working at a public elementary school in the rural town of Shibayama, Chiba Prefecture, had a fever of 38.5 degrees and was diagnosed as suffering bronchitis.
Because of her illness, Bouton, a 25-year-old U.S. native from Oregon who has been teaching in Japan’s public schools since 2004, had to take leave for two weeks.
But her employer, Interac, a temp staff dispatch agency and leading provider of ALTs in Japan, told her she had already used up her seven days of annual paid leave — less than the 12 days she is entitled to under labor law — to cover the days she was sick.