What was Interac’s settlement with the Osaka General Union?

Several days ago, I saw this posted on the website for the General Union in Osaka, which is one of the Japanese labor unions focusing on foreigner employment rights in Japan. Interac, as you know, is the major company supplying “dispatch” English teachers to Japanese primary and secondary schools . . .

Now, if you go visit the website again, you will find that it does not say that anymore.

So what was the “settlement” at the Central Labor Commission? Simply, that Interac agreed to bargain with the union in good faith? That is what they are supposed to do anyway.

So the General Union got nothing that it wasn’t supposed to get already?

This is not to demean the union, but if it’s true, it’s rather a testament to the sad state of foreigner labor protections in Japan. While our military is off the coast of Sendai helping out in the Tohoku relief effort—which we should gladly do given the humanitarian nature of the crisis—the Japanese are letting a dispatch company (one now owned by Advantage Partners, which I think, in turn, is owned by an American no less~!) screw around when it comes to something as basic as social insurances.

Basically, screwing young American kids out of $4,000 or $5,000 of pension in the year 2050 so that the Japanese Education Ministry (Munbusho) can show a nice low number for the amount the various districts had to spend on English teaching.

The General Union’s failing is that they are going about it all the wrong way.

What they need to do is this:

1. Go to the Embassies. Explain that the social insurance issue impacts the totalization treaties. In effect, Japan is in violation of its promises in those treaties, which now number over a dozen.

2. Explain to the Interacs that the Shakai Hoken is a concern of the union and of the Embassies.

3. Encourage Interac and the other big players to support the General Union’s going to the Education Ministry (Monbusho) and requiring that any dispatch company selling services to a Japanese public school to CERTIFY that they have the foreign nationals covered under Shakai Hoken. If a dispatch company does not so certify, they can’t do business with the schools. Plain and simple.

4. The people within the ALT world and within the General Union itself who are against Shakai Hoken are no worse off than they were before, because effectively a floor has been put under the wage level. The school districts would now have to include the Shakai Hoken in with the total costs. If they want an English teacher, there is no going around and finding a Filipina, unless they are willing to hire directly–in which case, there would be a Shakai Hoken issue.

The unions do some good things in Japan; but they also waste a lot of time. Working to show each party how proper social insurance for English teachers also achieves several other goals is effort that is worthwhile, not wasted.