Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.

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Hi Blog.  A friend sends word that his group of plaintiffs, some of whom are Non-Japanese, won their lawsuit against a university employer that had been ongoing for seven years.

In his words:

=========================

December 9, 2021

If you are getting this notice, it’s because you contributed in some way to our win in this case so CONGRATULATIONS! A few of you contributed massively, putting in many many hours of work, some helped by providing data or a letter we could submit to the court to counter MEI lies, or helped with translation, or showed up in court, or are union members who voted for funding. Some of you spread the word about the case. Some just said, “Gambatte!” when we needed it.

My point here is it took a long term (7 years for some of us!) team effort by dozens of us to finally succeed, and succeed we did in the high court. We could not have achieved a better outcome…

MEI has two weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court. And they might. That’s for them to worry about, not us.

In terms of money, I won all of my back pay, plus 5% interest, plus court fees that I had paid. I was not compensated for attorney fees, or mental anguish. We have no anchor website for this issue.

The main reasons we won were: 
1.) MEI failed to negotiate in good faith with the union about the cut 
2.) They had no real financial need to reduce salaries 
3.) There was no reduction in workload or other compensation for the reduction in pay.

Flyer we made public:

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  This matters because there’s a long tradition in Japan of Academic Apartheid, where foreign academics in higher education are given contracted status (increasingly, term-limited) while Japanese-citizen academics are given uncontracted, permanent tenure from day one of employment.  This is probably the oldest issue we’ve taken up on Debito.org, and it’s only gotten worse over the quarter-century of coverage:  Instead of more foreign academics becoming tenured like Japanese, the trend is to “gaijinize” the Japanese faculty (as a money-saving effort encouraged by the Ministry of Education all the way back in 1995) by putting them on contracts, eliminating tenure in an attempt to clean out disagreeable leftists from Japan’s universities.

MEI’s move to put everyone above a certain age on a different lower pay scale (Japanese and foreign) was a line the Fukuoka High Court was not willing to allow under the law.  Good to have that precedent set. Conclusion:  Join a union if you’re working in Japan.  Then fight these things in court as a union.

Despite this being important news for Japan’s academics, it hasn’t made the English-language media.  So let me translate the Mainichi’s brief on this.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
未払い賃金訴訟、元教授が逆転勝訴 「不利益大きい」 高裁宮崎支部
毎日新聞 2021/12/10 Courtesy of one of the plaintiffs
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20211210/k00/00m/040/049000c.amp

給与基準改定による年俸の2割減額は労働契約法に反し無効だとして宮崎国際大学(宮崎市)元教授の60代米国人男性が学校法人宮崎学園に対し、改定前との差額の未払い賃金約425万円の支払いを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決で、福岡高裁宮崎支部は8日、請求棄却した3月の1審・宮崎地裁判決を取り消し、男性側の請求を全て認めた。

判決によると、元教授は2000年に有期雇用の講師として採用され、契約更新しながら勤務し続け17年に教授に昇進。20年に退職した。学校法人側は15年、厳しい財政状況を理由に有期雇用教職員の60歳以降の年俸を従前の2割減に改定。元教授も減額対象となったが、不利益が大きく合理的と認められないとした。

高橋亮介裁判長は「教員間の不均衡もあり、減額に伴う不利益緩和のための経過措置や代償措置も取られていない」と法人側の主張を退けた。【塩月由香】

Unofficial translation:

Unpaid Salaries Lawsuit:  Former Professors see their prior decision against them overturned:  “This is a huge disadvantage” says Fukuoka High Court Miyazaki Branch

Mainichi Shinbun, December 10, 2021, translation by Debito, corrections welcome.

Due to a revision in the basic salary levels, Miyazaki International College cut their former professors’ base salaries by 20% once they reached sixty years of age. Plaintiffs sued their employer, Miyazaki Gakuen, for breach of labor contract, and demanded they pay 42,500,000 yen of unpaid salaries based upon their previous contract status.  Upon appeal, on December 8 the Fukuoka High Court overturned the Miyazaki District Court’s prior ruling, and awarded the plaintiffs all of their claims.

According to the decision, the former professors were employed on contract status as instructors from the year 2000, and over 17 years of contract renewals they achieved the rank of professor.  They retired in 2020.  According to the college, in 2015 they claimed financial distress and revised the base salary to cut 20% from all contracted educators over the age of sixty.  This pay cut also affected the former professors in question, and the court would not acknowledge the rationality of the cut due to it being overly disadvantageous to plaintiffs (furieki ga ookiku gouriteki to mitomerarenai to shita).

Head Judge Takahashi Ryousuke said, “For the educators this is disproportionate, and the university did not even take measures such as other compensation that would alleviate the disadvantages that come with such a pay cut,” dismissing the college’s claims.  ENDS

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One comment on “Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.

  • — Another article, this time with the correct figure of cut wages. Courtesy of one of the plaintiffs. Debito

    年俸減額は契約違反 宮崎国際大元教授 逆転勝訴 高裁宮崎
    12/11(土) 10:15 宮崎日日新聞
    https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/3a5d36ec4a0b760ece58f5b55e91047542514fc4
     給与基準改定による年俸の減額は労働契約法違反で無効だとして、宮崎国際大(宮崎市)元教授の60代米国人男性が同市・学校法人宮崎学園に対し、未払いの賃金約580万円の支払いを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決は8日、福岡高裁宮崎支部(高橋亮介裁判長)であった。同支部は、請求を棄却した宮崎地裁の一審判決(今年3月)を取り消し、男性の請求を認めた。
    ENDS

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