FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE KUMAMOTO KENRITSU DAI SITUATION
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998
To: email@example.com (Dave Aldwinckle)
From: Farrell Cleary <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hello David. I've just seen the ISSHO announcement about the Korst saga. I'll paste in the stuff relating to our case as it went out on Jaltcall yesterday and would be grateful if you could post it on the PALE page or on any of your other pages that you judge appropriate.
Kumamoto General Union National Union Of General Workers, National Workers' Council 1-100 Tsukide 3-chome, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 862-8502
FAQ: Some Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Situation of the Foreign Teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto answered by the Kumamoto General Union
Q1:How is the employment of foreign teachers different from the employment of Japanese teachers?
A1:All of the Japanese senninkyouin (full-time, regularly employed teachers) have unlimited term employment. In contrast, all of the foreign senninkyouin have limited term employment, one year or three year terms. Moreover, many of these foreign teachers are employed as special part-time irregular teachers.
Q2:What is employment discrimination on the basis of nationality?
A2:If you are treated differently and worse than your colleagues because you are not from Japan, then you are a victim of discrimination. This is specifically forbidden by the Labor Standards Act, the Japanese Constitution, and the U.N. Convention of Human Rights, which Japan has signed.
Q3:Japanese people are employed on special part-time irregular contracts so how can foreign teachers say it is discriminatory to be employed this way?
A3:At Japanese public universities, administrative assistants and cleaners are employed on these contracts. No Japanese senninkyouin are employed in this way; only foreign teachers are appointed as special part-time irregular employees. The reason this practice is discriminatory is that foreign teachers are employed under worse conditions than their Japanese colleagues, only because they are not Japanese.
Q4:How are these special part-time irregular appointments worse than regular appointments?
A4:Under the special terms of employment, foreign teachers do not receive bonuses, a retirement allowance, or numerous other benefits. For example, there are no provisions for promotion, and special foreign teachers cannot vote in university elections. Also, as one-year appointments, the special terms are much less secure than the unlimited term appointments that Japanese senninkyouin work under.
Q5:Why are these contracts inappropriate?
A5:At this University, the foreign teachers have been formally recognized as senninkyouin by the Ministry of Education. Like their Japanese colleagues, they have individual offices on campus and research budgets; they receive a regular salary which increases according to length of service. It is incongruous that full-time teachers such as these should be employed as irregular part-time teachers. No Japanese senninkyouin in public universities are employed on such inappropriate terms.
Q6:Isn't ninkisei (term employment) legal?
A6:Although the law does permit universities to introduce ninkisei, it is not a justification for discriminatory employment practices. To date, ninkisei has not been introduced for Japanese teachers at this University or at any other public university. Only the foreign teachers are employed on term contracts, and Japanese laws still prohibit such discriminatory treatment.
Q7:Foreign senninkyouin don't have to do research, do they?
A7:Incorrect. Foreign senninkyouin have responsibility to do research in the same way as their Japanese colleagues. They receive basic research budgets on the same scale and report on their research in the same way as Japanese senninkyouin. The problem with being special here is that even though they do research, foreign teachers are still ineligible for promotion.
Q8:Foreign senninkyouin don't have administrative responsibilities, do they?
A8:Incorrect. The foreign senninkyouin were members of the Language Center Working Committee from 1994. They have been responsible for Language Center budget expenditures and for making timetables for English courses. They have participated in the writing of the English Curriculum for the Administrative Studies Faculty. They have participated in department meetings since 1988 and Faculty meetings since 1995.
Q9:Can the foreign teachers be given regular contracts?
A9:Yes. There is no legal impediment to the regularization of public employees who are working on irregular contracts. Moreover, in formal negotiations with the Kumamoto General Union on February 10, 1998, the President of the University stated that the University could regularize the foreign teachers if it wanted to.
Q10.Isn't the number of regular teachers set by the Prefectural Assembly?
A10:Yes. The number of regular prefectural employees is set by the Assembly, and regular teachers at the university are no exception. All the University has to do is propose regularization to the Assembly.
Q11:Isn't it common for public universities to employ foreign teachers in a way that is different from Japanese teachers?
A11:Yes. Sadly many universities do this. However, different treatment based on nationality is discriminatory, and an increasing number of universities have realized the inappropriacy of such discrimination. The number includes universities in Aichi, Aizu, Hiroshima, Miyazaki, and Yamaguchi, all of which are now treating teachers without regard to nationality.
Q12:Kumamoto Prefecture is in a budget crunch so it can't afford to regularize the foreign teachers, can it?
A12:Wrong. Regularizing the contracts of a small group of foreign teachers would require very little of the Prefecture's budget.
Q13:What does Kumamoto gain in return for regularizing foreign teachers?
A13:The current discriminatory practices of hiring foreign teachers under different, worse conditions nullify the Prefecture's efforts to bring about true internationalization. Discrimination tarnishes Kumamoto's image and diminishes educational opportunities for students at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. Ending discrimination based on nationality will put Kumamoto back on the right track.
Q14:What's the solution?
A14:Regularize the foreign teachers. Where there's a will there's a way.
Kumamoto General Union contacts Cynthia L. Worthington, President 096-245-3419 (tel./fax) E-mail: email@example.com =46arrell D. Cleary, Vice President 096-364-8694 (tel./fax) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul A. Beaufait
096-365-5650 (tel.) E-mail: email@example.com
Daniel T. Kirk
096-282-2602 (tel.) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Thomas L. Simmons
Nihon University 2-28-10-303 Morigaoka, Isogoku, Yokohama 235-0024 JAPAN
Fax: 81 45 845 8242; Email: email@example.com
Kumamoto General Union will stage a one-day strike on June 24th in order to protest years of discrimination by Prefectural University of Kumamoto and Kumamoto Prefecture. They have failed to negotiate in good faith when they attended negotiations, and have recently refused to negotiate at all. The following is the message we have distributed in both Japanese and English to muster support.
RALLY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS:
Call for an End to Discrimination at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto
Gather at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto Wednesday, June 24, 1998 at 12:00 Noon
Unlike their Japanese colleagues, all of the full-time foreign teachers have limited employment terms -- one-year or three-year contracts. Moreover, many of the full-time foreign teachers are employed as Special Part-time Irregular Foreign Teacher. This means no security of employment, no bonus, no promotion, and exclusion from full participation in the University. Employing full-time teachers on part-time contracts is of course contradictory. None of the full-time Japanese teachers the Prefectural University of Kumamoto is employed in this way. This system of employment is discrimination is blatantly discriminatory. Such discrimination on the basis of nationality is forbidden by the Labor Standards Act and the Japanese Constitution. Moreover, it is in violation of the United Nations Convention on Human Rights, which Japan has signed.
The teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto have been petitioning the University for more than 15 years to end discrimination. After years of fruitless attempts to improve the situation within the University, last year the teachers decided to seek public support. The National Union of General Workers [National Council] helped them to form their own union, the Kumamoto General Union, in July 1997. In October, they held a press conference and received sympathetic coverage in the regional media. However, the University has failed to show any willingness to remedy the situation. In February this year, the University imposed even worse contracts on the one-year foreign teachers. In the face of deteriorating employment conditions, the teachers have no alternative but to continue to fight discrimination and to defend their jobs. Accordingly, the Union has called a one-day strike for June 24, 1998. By taking this action, the teachers hope to raise public awareness of discriminatory treatment at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. With public support, we seek to bring about equal treatment of all teachers, regardless of nationality.
We call on all concerned citizens to join us on Wednesday the 24th at noon for a rally against discrimination and for human rights. Even 10 minutes of your time would be appreciated. Please gather at the main entrance of the University, opposite the Red Cross Hospital.
Please send faxes of support to the University office with messages like the following: 'Abolish discrimination on the basis of nationality', 'Treat all teachers equally', 'True internationalization = equality'. If possible, let us know that you have sent faxes to the University.
FAX: Teshima Takashi, President Prefectural University of Kumamoto 3-1-100 Tsukide Kumamoto City 862 Fax: 096-38_4_-6765
Kumamoto General Union Contacts:
Cynthia L. Worthington, President, Kumamoto General Union Tel/Fax:096-096-245-3419
Farrell Cleary, Vice President Tel/Fax:096-364-8694
Strike at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto: A Personal View.
'Foreign Teacher'/'Foreign Language Teacher', the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, and Vice-President of the Kumamoto General Union.
On 24 June, 1998, foreign teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto staged a one-day strike calling for an end to discrimination based on nationality. Three teachers on 'one-year, special, irregular, part-time contracts' went on strike supported by other foreign teachers at the university who, as regular public servants, are barred from striking by Japanese law. Also present in support of the strike were N.U.G.W. officials from Tokyo, Osaka and Kitakyushu, and a score of N.U.G.W. activists from around Kyushu. A mid-day 'Human Rights Rally' drew more than a hundred people, including students, supporters from other universities and regional N.G.O.s, as well as a sprinkling of prefectural officials (and some teaching staff) busy with cameras and notebooks. Inter-union differences were put aside as solidarity messages were given by representatives of Zen-ro-ren affiliated unions, and valuable logistical support was provided by a local Rengo-affilitated union. Faxes urging the university to end discrimination were sent to the President of the university from all over Japan. Kumamoto General Union President, Dr. Cynthia Worthington, urged the Prefecture to pay attention to the billboard at present standing outside the Prefectural Office which proclaims: 'Yasashii Kumamoto: sabetsu no nai machi tsukuri' ['For a humane Kumamoto: let's make a discrimination-free city.'] After the rally and a press-conference, a statement was delivered to the university calling for the university to end its refusal to discuss the terms of appointment of the foreign teachers at collective bargaining. At a press conference immediately afterwards, the President of the University, Takashi Teshima, reaffirmed the earlier refusal to discuss the terms of appointment. He again denied that the university was discriminating. However, in the Kumamoto NichiNichi Shimbun (25 June) the university conceded that until 1997, the employment of so-called 'Foreign Teachers' had in fact been based on nationality. The university stated that this was no longer the case since the job title of the foreign teachers employed on the one-year contracts had been changed to 'Foreign Language Teacher'. Japanese nationals who were native speakers of English could become FLTs. The university failed to explain why the ability to speak English well should be the basis for a Japanese teacher working under inferior conditions to those of lesslinguistically endowed colleagues. At present there are no Japanese staff working on such one-year contracts and Teshima's statement is a clear indication that the university may be planning to introduce 'fixed-term' employment for its Japanese as well as its foreign staff. That of course would be one way of ending the discrimination.
With regard to the situation of the five foreign teachers who have 'regular' contracts but three-year term limits, the university was unable to do more than flatly state that the contracts were not discriminatary and that many universities imposed similar limits on foreign teachers (Kumamto Nichinichi Shinbun 25 June, 1998).
Background to the Strike.
The National Secretary of the NUGW, Mr. Endo, said that the Kumamoto strike was the first by foreign teachers at a Japanese public university (Asahi Shinbun 25 June). While the Kumamoto teachers are not the only teachers in Japan to face discriminatary contracts, there are aggravating factors which explain their determination to win fair terms of employment. In 1993, they were asked by the Prefecture to sign documents accepting employment as 'sennin kyouin' in the Japanese version and 'full-time faculty members' in the English. However, in April 1994 they were asked to sign documents accepting employment as 'special irregular part-time' teachers. The contradiction between the two documents was too blatent to accept and the teachers refused to sign the latter documents. For four years they refused to sign documents accepting 'part-time' status, maintaining that they were in fact full-time teachers and should be given appropriate documents. The refusal of the university to make any concessions and its imposition of even worse contractual conditions in April 1998 are the factors which produced the historic strike.
NAMES OF ORGANIZATIONS: Kumamoto General Union; Okinawa International Union; The Committee to Reinstate Professor Gallagher
NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS: Three
PANELISTS: (1) Cynthia L. Worthington, J.D.;President, Kumamoto General Union; Lecturer, Prefectural University of Kumamoto; Former Attorney for the Office of the Administrative Law Judges, U.S.Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. (2) Mr. Timothy J. Korst, President, Okinawa International Union; Former foreign lecturer at the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa (3) Ms. Gwendolyn Gallagher; University and college teacher since 1979, Hokkaido (4) Dr. Ivan Hall, Former Professor, Law Faculty, Gakushuin University, Tokyo; Author, "Cartels of the Mind: Japan's Intellectual Closed Shop"
SUBJECT: Foreign Teachers to Hold Historic Strike at Japanese Public University/Rising Tide of Activists Fight Discrimination Against Foreign Teachers
BACKGROUND: The Kumamoto General Union is planning a strike on Wednesday, June 24, 1998, at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. It is an historic event, the first strike by foreign teachers at a public university in Japan. The Union was formed in 1997 to obtain for foreign teachers the same working conditions as their Japanese colleagues. It is demanding an end to the discriminatory employment practices leveled against foreign nationals. Separate and unequal employment systems, one for Japanese and one for foreigners, are systemic in Japanese universities and endorsed by the Ministry of Education. Unfair dismissals and discriminatory conditions are widespread. Timothy J. Korst, former lecturer at the University of the Ryukyus, was unfairly terminated in March, 1998. He then formed the Okinawa International Union and has filed a petition in Naha District Court for an injunction to preserve his position. Gwendolyn Gallagher, a former lecturer at Asahikawa University in Hokkaido, was laid off after 12 years to 'bring in fresh, new foreign faces'. She won a court injunction, but the university then fired her again within a year of reinstatement. Her case is pending.
Day and Time: Friday, June 19, 1998 at 3:00 P.M., Foreign Correspondents' Club Japan