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Kansai Gaidai Branch meeting
15 October

Nippon Steel & Sumikin demands deadline
16 October

YMCA grievance deadline
18 October

General Meeting
20 October

Nova consultation
21 October

Secretariat meeting
21 October

Gaba demands deadline
23 October

Osaka Gaigo two unions meeting
23 October

Gaba grievance deadline
24 October

Berlitz collective bargaining
24 October

YMCA Consultation
30 October


Kinki University collective bargaining proposed
25 September



This week's top stories

Mongolia Landmark judgment against Rio Tinto in Mongolian court [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-10-16


Australia / Global How to reduce poverty: pay a decent minimum wage [Working Life] 2013-10-16


Qatar Two Germans detained in Qatar after filming World Cup labour conditions[Guardian] 2013-10-15


Colombia / UK TUC calls for release of jailed Colombian trade unionist [Justice for Colombia]  ActNOW!  2013-10-14


Middle East / Africa New Structure to strengthen democratic and independent trade unionism in the Arab countries [ITUC] 2013-10-13


Global Hollywood actors and international athletes support the ILO's Red Card for child labour campaign. [ILO] 2013-10-13


Bangladesh Sweatshop owners may start to sweat as workers organize [The Spectator] 2013-10-13


Canada / Turkey Thousands protest against Crown Holdings [IndustriALL Global Union] ActNOW!  2013-10-12

Russia New 'FIFA' Laws Strip World Cup Workers’ Rights in Russia [ITUC] 2013-10-10


Qatar Labour leaders put companies on notice over worker abuses in Qatar [ITUC] 2013-10-10



15 October 2013
Osaka Gaigo: Strike 2 over wage increases

On October the 10th eleven members of the General Union and Naniwa union working at Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko staged a half day strike for a 5% pay increase and a bonus payment of at least one months wages twice yearly. The strike united Japanese and foreign workers, office workers and teachers and workers on temporary and permanent contracts.

Employees were angry that despite the fact that the educational trust that runs the school claims that it does not have the money to pay the increase, it refuses to provide the two unions with the financial figures necessary to see whether this is true.
Keep reading..


14 October 2013
Fear of criminal prosecution forces Tezukayama Uni to settle Labour Standards Law violation

University to blame for class cancellations, NOT the teacher. Have a similar problem? Make sure to contact us immediately.

Tezukayama University, under threat of criminal prosecution after a complaint from a GU part-time teacher for breaking the Labour Standards Law, settled a case of cancelled koma (classes) after the contract was signed.

According to the Labour Standards Law an employer must pay for the cancellation of work which is attributable to the employer; in the case Koma that is cancelled after the academic year begins due to low enrollment.
Keep reading..


9 October 2013
GABA Branch update - 2013

The Gaba branch is always busy working on various issues to improve the working lives of instructors. Some issues are large, such as overall pay rates and conditions. Others are smaller, and may only deal with a situation being faced by only one instructor. But all of them are important, and instructors who are experiencing any difficulties in their work at Gaba are encouraged to contact the union. Some of the things currently on the agenda are:

(1) Gaba replied to the union's grievance regarding instructors being told to do unpaid Mindflash training for the "Starter" books. The union will be making a demand for payment for this training.
Keep reading..


26 September 2013
A new wave of union activism in GU Berlitz Branch

After the biggest union meeting of Berlitz union members at the end of August, the union has submitted demands to raise wages, protect part time teachers from arbitrary cuts in lessons taught, and to make sure that Berlitz teachers are paid for all the work they do.

Did you know that all Berlitz teachers are paid only for the lessons they teach? How is it possible to teach without doing ANY work outside of the 40 minute lesson time? I guess Berlitz believes that textbooks just fly into the teachers' hands. How about when the staff ask teachers questions about students and their progress? The staff aren't invited into the lesson to discuss it within the lesson time, are they? It's done between the lessons.
Keep reading..

21 September 2013
Things to remember when dealing with sexual harassment

1. Trust your instincts:
When a situation feels incredibly uncomfortable, it is a sign that something is wrong. Ignoring the situation is not going to change anything, but rather make it possible for things to escalate. 

2. You are not alone:
If it is happening to you, it probably has happened or is still happening to someone else. Familiarize yourself with your school’s or company’s policies, so that you can follow the chain of command, if necessary.

3. Show strength through body language: 
Keep reading..


12 September 2013
Kansai Gaidai: 15 out leafletting

The past year has seen enormous growth in our branch at Kansai Gadai but members are keen to see numbers increase even more - there is strength in unity. 

This morning, fifteen people were out spreading news of the union to non-members at the entrance to the university. Twelve Kansai Gaidai teachers were supported by three members of the General Union Executive Committee.
Keep reading..


5 September 2013
Union wins job back for a fired disabled NOVA teacher

Nova recently fired a long term employee, and union member, due to his disability. This was part of a series of actions harassing our member because he is disabled. Needing the job badly, our member had stood by as they cut his work hours 2 years running, along with cutting his shakai hoken (health insurance & pension). 

The union had raised the initial cuts with Nova but they would not budge. The member’s health condition is worsened when placed under stress so unfortunately, on the previous occasions he decided to not pursue the issues. It was a different matter this time round though.
Keep reading..


5 September 2013
Peppy Kids Club Strikes

Some time back, iTTTi Japan effectively fired our branch chair by non-renewing him after nine years at Peppy Kids Club. The grounds were flimsy at best and we believe it was for union activity. He was making progress in organizing Japanese teachers and the company was scared.

A settlement of sorts was brokered, Jason returned to work, and we dropped our suits against the company. Part of the settlement fell through and they tried to say Jason was out of the company. We managed to get another 6 week renewal with him working in yet another division of the company.
Keep reading..

1 September 2013
August 2013 Gaba Negotiations - new issues covered

On Monday August 26th 2013 the Gaba Branch of the GU held negotiations with Gaba Corporation. Topics discussed included three main topics: paid training, a proper grievance procedure for dealing with workplace problems, and also the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

A lot of time was spent discussing sexual harassment in the eikaiwa industry, talking about things that have happened and how better systems and procedures are required to deal with these.

The issue of sexual harassment is a very difficult one, but we conveyed a lot of information to the company that they were not aware of, and we are optimistic that the discussion will lead to positive changes in the future.

You can take the sexual harassment survey
Keep reading..

19 August 2013
Collective agreement with ECC secures members' employment

On July 29, the General Union and ECC finalized a collective labour agreement over contract renewals.

This new agreement gives union members extra protection from non-renewal and the new contract renewal guidelines introduced by ECC in April.

Under this agreement ECC must renew General Union members' contracts unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Unlike at other language schools, ECC union members will no longer have the stress of worrying about contract renewals.


5 August 2013
GABA incentive pay survey

For lessons from May 2013 onwards Gaba changed the incentive system. Two changes were made: the first was paying an additional 200 yen for morning weekday peak lessons (the F-peak incentive), this was a good increase for morning instructors, and Gaba and the General Union signed a collective agreement over it.

Gaba also made an additional change to incentives. Unfortunately, they changed from counting all lessons towards the TNT (Total Number Taught) incentive to only counting peak lessons for a PNT (Peak Number Taught) incentive.

The union is in favour of all lessons receiving a fair incentive, and now that instructors have started receiving their paychecks including the revised PNT incentive, the union is interested in finding out how instructors feel about it.

If you would like to have your say, please complete our anonymous survey:

Take the survey 


1 August 2013
Autumn General Meeting & Open Public Seminars

Sunday, 20 October
from 2:00 to 6:00
L-Osaka in Temmabashi (map)
click to see an agenda for the day



1 August 2013
Sexual harassment: What happened to me

I’ve taught at my company for two years now and while most students have been perfectly fine, there have been two incidents that bothered me enough to request to have the students blocked from my schedule. 

At the time of the first incident, I was not a union member. It was difficult enough just to discuss with my managers, but the process itself was unnecessarily unpleasant and difficult. I was intimidated, made to feel that it was my fault or untrue, and I was treated like a troublemaker.

Since becoming a declared union member, the company's attitude has changed. At the time of the second incident, I notified my supervisor just as I did the first time, but also made them aware that the union was monitoring the situation. This time, I was taken seriously and the student was removed from my schedule almost immediately. 
Keep reading..


24 July 2013
Video on changes to the labour contract law

Our sister union in Tokyo, NUGW Tokyo Nambu, recently gave a talk on changes to the employment law and how they affect you. 

In October, we will be holding seminars on the law in both Osaka and Nagoya. Dates and places will be advised soon. In the meantime, please check out the video.

Read more about the changes


19 July 2013
Take the union's "sexual harassment in eikaiwa" survey

Click the image to go to the survey


11 July 2013
11 July. Strike at Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko

While Japanese and foreign members at Osaka Gaigo extended last week's strike deadline in hopes of a better offer from their employer by 9 July, management's weak offer will lead to a Thursday, 11 July strike.

Osaka Gaigo made a last minute pay offer of a measly 0.12 month's summer bonus for Japanese workers and a 'no change' offer for the foreign teachers. The employer did offer and extra ¥5000 extra for the winter bonus, but this is far off the members' counter offer of one full month's bonus this year.

Teachers and staff have been suffering cuts to their bonuses and small if any wage increases over many years and this year the General Union in cooperation with Naniwa Union decided to stop the rot in wages and bonuses. The employer rightfully claims a drop in student numbers but failed to show the unions their total labour costs as they have lost many teachers over the years and bonuses have deteriorated for those who remained.
Keep reading..


4 July 2013
What made you join the union?

As a union of mostly migrant workers we put a lot of effort into recruiting new members as people are regularly returning to their home countries. Recruitment is essential for us.

We do a lot of different activities to make the union attractive to new members. We hold open meetings, we make leaflets, YouTube videos , we stand outside schools ready to talk to people willing to listen, but in the final analysis, whether people join or not, comes down to our current members. 

A recent survey of union members showed that 71.3% of people joined because a coworker, or friend, asked them too.
Keep reading..


3 July 2013
GABA pay increase. Collective agreement signed.

In an historic first, the General Union and Gaba Corporation have signed a collective agreement guaranteeing a pay increase. All instructors will now receive an extra 200 yen per lesson for the first three morning weekday lessons. This is a 13.3% increase for A-belt instructors, which are approximately half of Gaba's instructor workforce.

The lessons with increased pay are what Gaba calls the "F-shift" lessons - the three morning peak lessons (07:00, 07:45, and 08:30). This increase is a good start towards improving working conditions; as some instructors have to wake up as early as 4:30 to work these slots, they deserve extra compensation.

The additional pay began from May 2013, with the first payday being June 25th. The agreement was formally signed and dated on June 17, 2013.
Keep reading..


3 July 2013
GABA: So what has the union ever done for me?

The Gaba branch of the GU was founded in September 2007. After the branch was founded, and asked for improvements:

  • The rate of pay was increased from 1400 yen per lesson to 1500 yen.

  • Contract lengths were extended from 4 months to 6 months.

  • Instructors were recognized as workers entitled to union representation under Trade Union Law.

  • The union and company made an agreement to negotiate in May 2012.

  • Since then morning peak lessons have received an addition 200 yen incentive.

  • The amount of money available for monthly incentives has been increased. Keep reading..


30 June 2013
General Union Schools and Colleges Branch:
Stable employment for all teachers

Last year a bill aiming to stabilize the employment of workers on limited term contracts passed both houses of the Diet. The bill gives workers who have been employed continuously for over five years the right to request a permanent contract. Disgracefully, a number of prestigious educational institutions, including Osaka, Kobe and Waseda Universities, have since an-nounced changes to working rules that try to impose a maximum limit of five years employment on part-time teachers. If this attack on part-time teachers is not answered, it will eventually lead to an undermining of the conditions of all teachers. We are working with other unions to oppose this.

This shows that teachers cannot rely on the good will of schools and colleges to look after their interests. All teachers, including part-time and contract workers need a voice. As an individual, your opinion will be ignored. Teachers need to get organized and join a union now. Keep reading..


26 June 2013
General Union news archive: 1995 - 2012

Please see our entire news archive!

It took a long time to go through 17 years worth of the newsletters, but we've finally finished our news archive! One of the reasons it took so long was that the old newsletters brought back a lot of memories of some long disputes, union meetings, and organising drives.

But now it's ready for the whole world to see. You see that we're not a 'flash in the pan' union; that we have a long history and an especially long history at winning. 
Keep reading..


19 June 2013
Strike looms over wages at Osaka Gaigo

Japanese and foreign teachers and staff represented by Naniwa Union and the General Union have signified their intention to go on strike by submitting a strike deadline to Osaka Gaigo Senmon Gakko.

The deadline asks that an offer to the unions' wages demands of a 5% pay increase and a month's bonus twice per year be made by the employer. These pay demands come after years of wage stagnation. While members understand that due to falling student numbers Osaka Gaigo may not be as healthy as they once were, they still believe that the employer's financial situation shouldn't be shouldered entirely by teachers and staff.
Keep reading..


11 June 2013
See our new Japanese eNEWS at

Have you ever been interested in letting your Japanese coworkers know about the union? Well, now you have a great chance to invite them to read information in Japanese at

Of course, General Union news has always been, and always will be available on our website's Japanese page.

6 June 2013
Shigaku Kyosai. Are you covered?

Many teachers, even part timers, working in private elementary & high schools, colleges & universities are enrolled in shigaku kyosai (a form of shakai hoken) which consists of both health insurance and pension. In English it is called Private School Mutual Aid.
If you haven't already, please check out the English language website. There are benefits you mightn't have heard of:
Keep reading...


22 May 2013
ECC teachers: Your rights at risk!

This April, ECC management announced major changes to teachers' working conditions. 

  • New contract renewal guidelines

  • Revisions to teachers' work codes. 

Alarm bells ring
The General Union is extremely concerned that these changes were made without proper consultation with the parties involved and will be dealing with these issues over the coming months.
Keep reading...

26 April 2013
General Union gears up for a new year!

The 2013 Annual General Meeting brought together about 90 union members who listened to officer reports covering the different GU sectors (Private Language Industry - PLI, Schools and Colleges - SAC, Industrial and Commercial - I&C), and the annual finance report and budget.
Members who have won recent victories or are currently in dispute also asked for support in their workplaces and thanked union members for their past help. 
 The current branch chair of the Peppy Kids Club Branch spoke about his dismissal for union activity and how he was touched to see the number of members in his branch grow after he was fired. The solidarity in this branch will guarantee a victory and many new union activists.
Keep reading...


April 2013
Our GABA Branch's hanami party in Tokyo

13 April 2013
Union welcomes ALL to open seminars - 21 April

The General Union welcomes members and non members alike to attend our open seminars from 4PM which follows the Annual General Meeting (members only) on 21 April at L-Osaka in Temmabashi.

Last October’s open seminars were a great success. Members were even heard to say, “I wish the seminar could have been longer,” which is not something most people say about union meetings.

So come on out and learn about your rights!
Keep reading...


12 April 2013
A win at No Borders International School

Having asked their employer to enroll them in health & pension (shakai hoken) and unemployment insurance, teachers became frustrated when No Borders insisted that teachers pay ridiculously high premiums. The premiums were so inflated that we suspect No Borders was attempting to have teachers pay the company's part of the premiums.Keep reading...



More news at

  Contact us:

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090 9259 6759 (free for AUusers)
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Opinion articles sought:
The union is running a series of opinion pieces and we are calling for submissions from members. We are looking for opinion pieces that relate to work place issues. We are hoping to generate discussion within the union and the wider foreign community. Submissions should be around 500 words and should be submitted in a word document to .
You can see the last two articles:
'No hands' policy 

Joining the GU: Now more than ever, no time to waste

It's a matter of dignity

National Union Voice Archives



Community Corner:
Do you have community events or announcements that you would like to send to union members. Please send them to
for our consideration.