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NHK Report on Problems with ALT Dispatch Companies

I mentioned recently in the forums that NHK was putting together a report on Nova. The report aired on NHK on June 30 at 7:30 AM, and had more to do with problem surrounding ALT dispatch companies than Nova. Fortunately, the report has found its way onto YouTube.

Part 1

The reports begins with the Nova bunny beating down an employee. This is the teacher's union skit in Shibuya aimed at educating the public about how Nova treats its employees. The beef is that employment with Nova is unstable (all instructors have to renew their contracts annually) and the company needs to look after its workers better instead of being a slave to profits.

The report then switches to a union office in Tokyo that handles 1,000 consultations a month from instructors regarding issues such as sudden dismissals and contracts that are not renewed.

A Canadian, who has contracted with a dispatch company and teaches English 40 hours a week at an elementary school, visits the office. His problem is that the dispatch company won't enroll him in shakai hoken, the national health insurance and pension schemes. As the instructor explains, the dispatch company refused to enroll him because the company was "too small" and that shakai hoken was for Japanese people only.

Three years ago, he was diagnosed with kidney stones. At one point, the treatments and surgeries cost him over 250,000 yen, all of which he paid out of his own pocket because he did not have health insurance. In total, he paid approximately 700,000 yen. Fortunately for him, the union was able to negotiate with the dispatch company and get him enrolled in the national health plan. Unfortunately for him, the dispatch company terminated him last year.

The report then notes the trend of more English being taught in elementary and junior high schools across Japan. In all, there are about 10,000 foreign instructors teaching English with more than half of them employed through dispatch companies. This, of course, has lead to problems.

At a General Union rally in Match this year, the instructors demanded better working conditions saying the terms of their employment is illegal.

In Osaka, school boards contract with a dispatch company who provides English instructors. Although the instructor is hired by the dispatch company and should be taking orders from the company, but it was found that the schools were assigning classes to the instructors, which violates the Labour Dispatch Law.

Part 2

This type of labour issue is not limited to Osaka, however. Part 2 opens with the story of Samantha, an American living in Chiba and teaches English at an elementary school via Interac. Interac supplies more than 200 school boards across Japan with over 1,000 instructors. But just as with the cases in Osaka, she receives assignments directly from the school when it should be Interac who gives Samantha her marching orders.

Each week, Samantha creates a teaching schedule after consulting with the teachers, and then sends it off to Interac. A few days later, Interac sends back the very same schedule as her official schedule for the week.

A labour expert notes that cases like Samantha's conflict with the law. The expert notes that it is against the Labour Dispatch Law for employees contracted with a dispatch company to submit reports and have them rubber stamped by the company.

As a result of the labour problems, The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology issued notices two years ago to school boards across Japan stating that the use of dispatch companies to hire instructors was illegal. The school board where Samantha works, however, claims to have not known about the notice.

After Samantha found out that her employment was illegal, she asked the school board to make improvements. Although she works 8-5 and 40 hours a week, her contract with Interac limits her hours to 29.5 a week making her ineligible for shakai hoken. Instead of talking with Interac, she took her case directly to the school, but they refused to hear her out. According to the head of the school board, the school had no plans to directly hire instructors, and would be stuck with the task of having to find a new instructor in the event an instructor quit. But as the interview makes clear, the school frames the issue as a matter of trust--they trust specialized companies like Interac to provide them with good instructors.

Comment: So are we supposed to believe that foreign instructors are not trustworthy?

Back to Samantha, she is thinking about retuning to the United States. Her story concludes by stating the obvious--with more foreign teachers working in Japan, resolving their labour problems is a big issue. NHK also points out that Interac refused to be interviewed.

The report wraps with a question: Why are these dispatch contracts being carried out if they are illegal? According to school board officials in Osaka, using teachers provided by dispatch companies means the schools don't have to worry about the terms and conditions of employment and the instructor's salaries. As for the school boards in Osaka who got nailed for their practices, they are currently considering hiring teachers directly or re-working the terms and conditions of the contracts.

Comment: This is what makes contracting with companies like Interac appealing to schools--they can provide a steady stream of cheap instructors.

(h/t Fucked Gaijin), Nambu

Japan: 
Eikaiwa: 

Comments

I'm Samantha's husband (the dude nodding with a cat in his arms in the video). Just a quick correction to this part:

After Samantha found out that her employment was illegal, she asked the school board to make improvements. Although she works 9-5 and 40 hours a week, her contract with Interac limits her hours to 29.5 a week making her ineligible for shakai hoken. Instead of talking with Interac, she took her case directly to the school, but they refused to hear her out.

The 29.5 hour thing is a relatively recent policy from Interac. When we were hired on in 2004 there was no mention of it, and salaried ALTs still signed "FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS" (all caps because that's the way the company wrote it, not me). The first time we were made aware of the company's claim that, despite being at work 40-45 hours in a week we're actually only working 29.5, was in a union negotiation in November 2005. That negotiation was part of a string of attempts on our part to raise our concerns with Interac. After initially refusing outright to meet with us (they even hung up the phone when the Labor Relations Board called), we got two meetings in late 2005 that consisted of the company saying no to everything (literally everything, and we were demanding stuff like "Show us a copy of your working rules."). Needless to say, that process stalled. It was only over a year later that we went directly to our school board.

Starting at the beginning the current school year, the company sent out representatives to the client schools explaining new scheduling forms they're all supposed to fill out weekly. The forms explain that working hours consist of time in class only, and that those hours must total under 29.5 a week. The obvious question to me is, if I'm done "working" by 3:30 at the latest, why can't I go home until 4:45?

Just one more correction. I work from 8-5, not 9-5, and because I eat lunch with the children and play with them during their afternoon break my weekly work total is 45 hours a week.

samantha asks: the obvious question to me is, if I'm done "working" by 3:30 at the latest, why can't I go home until 4:45?

the reply would have to be, what compels you to stay and threaten the integrity of the company's work contract? (besides a desire to not make trouble, that is...)

Thank you for all of the feedback and fleshing out these labour issues. This is very useful information for people thinking of teaching English in Japan.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. -Albert Einstein

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

When we showed up at this location in 2005 we were shown a piece of paper that stated we had to be at school from 8am - 4:45pm. Some company policies (i.e. renaming full-time contracts "alt employment contracts", stating that working hours only include time spent in classrooms) have changed, or at least been made more explicit since then.

Still, when I had to leave school at 3:30 last month (6th period ends at 3:30, which according to Interac means my working hours are complete), I had to fill out a time-off request form.

And yes, one reason we don't get agitated about this at work is because we genuinely do love the schools we work at. We've each been working full-time at elementary schools in this little town since 2005, and we're both quite fond of the people we work with. Don't want to upset them needlessly, and to be honest, neither of us mind the hours too much. It's the claim that despite the hours, we're only part-time workers that we find insulting.

Tell Samantha to ask the school to make a direct contract.

If they say yes tell the scum dispatch firm to fffffffffffff

If they say no ask why?

It is in their interest to do so.

The "under 30 hours=ineligible for Shakai-hoken" thing is another awesome fabrication supported&reinforced by nova,and companies happy to grab onto their evil coattails:company workers are entitled to shakai hoken,period.

"The "under 30 hours=ineligible for Shakai-hoken" thing is another awesome fabrication supported&reinforced by nova,and companies happy to grab onto their evil coattails:company workers are entitled to shakai hoken,period."

true. and the only way to fight said fabrications is through joining the local unions.
http://interac.generalunion.org

Like you guys, I love working with kids and they love me. The teachers tell me the kids love me. This would be a great job and should have worked out except for a couple of little things.
WHen I had my interview with Interac/Maxceed/Selti/Whatever they want to call themselves, the girl told me I would be working from 8:30 to 5 pm. I asked her then what time school lets out and she mentioned that if the school wants to let you go at the same time as the kids then that's up to them. She then literally growled at me that I was never allowed to ask if I could leave before that time. Ok....just askin'.
I went to their orientation and the trainers didn't really seem to know what they were doing. One of their main points of the training was that everything we say, do, or think has to go through interac first. Meaning you can't talk about your schedules, you can't confront teachers directly about any problems, you can't you can't you can't. THey gave us a manual but many things that interac and the schools do contradict it.
I adhered to their 5 pm rule, even though interac is supposed to fix it so that our "free time" (read unpaid time) is written into our schedule so the teachers can be sensitive to it. But alas, after 5 and a half months at my second school, they never did.
Interac says to contact them immediately if we have quarrels with the teachers. Well, at my first school I had some old witch hassling me constantly about something that had nothing to do with the school and I told interac about it. They said I should apologize (?!) and that they really don't want to mediate. Why? They said because when BOE evaluation time comes, the only thing that is written down would be "there was a conflict." That's it. Regardless of who's right or wrong.
I was staying until 5 daily at both my schools and then some of my fellow instructors told me they were getting off at 3:30 or 2:30.
My second school was a nightmare. The teachers were mostly good people but the scheduling was a total shambles, which meant that I had to teach several classes on my own (a big no no) because they didn't think to schedule it so the JET could be in the room with me. They also forgot the pre lesson meetings 90% of the time and then reschedule them for late in the afternoon, sometimes leaving me stuck there until 6. Some of the teachers are just plain rude, disrespectful, and negligent. I asked interac to intervene again and at first they said "just be patient and things will get better." Well, things got worse and when I talked to them again, they said it was all my fault. Finally interac wanted a meeting with me after I got them in trouble and they had the nails and hammers out to crucify me. Interac pulled one lame excuse after another out of their youknowwhats and told me how evil I was for not taking their abuse and the school's. They even started talking about how the teachers hate me and the BOE hates me.....though in the 7 months I've been working at the schools it was never mentioned that schools had any ill feelings toward me. Some of the things interac said even contradicted what my evaluation from the schools said. I politely told interac to shove it, and they were shocked. They then begged me not to tell anyone at the schools about my decision to leave. Probably to prevent me from getting a direct contract. Another one of the many things you can't talk about. Maybe I should stop writing this before I get taken to room 101. Interac SIEG HEIL!!

It is about time that we start organizing to fight these vampires. These companies are making foturens taking advantage of people like us.

Labour Standards Inspection Office

Tokyo 03-3512-1600 (Tokyo Office) People speak English there and are very helpful. You can ask them questions about your contract. You can also register an official complaint with this office and they will send an inspector to investigate.

Kanagawa: 045-211-7350

I never called there because I live in Tokyo.

Check out W5`s renumeration for working almost full-time in Meguro-Ku as ALT.

https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/index/view/keywords/W5/job_id/31171

Applicants will be needed to meet the following requirements:

*Native English speaker only

*Must hold a B.A. / B.S. degree or above

*Intermediate Japanese skill to communicate with Japanese teachers

*Must have a working visa

*Must have Teaching experiences at ES or JHS in Japan

*Must have a professional manner as a public school teacher

Things that will be great assets are below;

*Flexibility to understand Japanese culture and willingness to share your own culture

*Must have TESOL, TEFL or CELTA

*Teaching experience as a certified school teacher in your home country

*Good communication skills with children/Japanese teachers, enjoying working together

*Ability to create lesson plans for enjoyable activities for children, entertain them

Assistant Language Teacher at Public schools

in Meguro, Tokyo 4days/week:180,000-200,000 yen/month

They want a teacher who has all this and they are paying that kind of money?

Meguro`s Board of Education should really think how people who teach thier kinds are being treated.

I expect the person who wrote the ad is a little inexperienced and doesn't know that they are unlikely to get replies from people who actually fit the criteria, or if they do there will be something dodgy about them anyway.

jon

Went to an interview with these jokers a while back when nova was going under. They offered me a job but when I did some research on the company and their so called support or lack of support for their instructors I refused their offer. As I remember the pay was similar to Nova for ALTs but the whole system was a joke, starting from the incompetent, lack of English speaking ability staff, who I might say did the interview to the autocratic, do it my way or the highway owner. It was a complete waste of time. It is a company to stay away from.

>These companies are making foturens taking advantage of people like us.

Yeah, it's been going on for several centuries, as well. It's called capitalism, apparently.

Get used to the fact that, in 2009, your bachelors degree is worth the same as good high school grades, in Mom and Dad's generation.

Personally, I think it's high time the J-Government refused working visas to people who don't have postgradute qualifications. That'd sort the problem RIGHT out.

George W. Bush has a master's degree from the Ivy League. Bob Dylan is a University of Minnesota drop-out. It's high time the J-Government refused working visas to idiots. Nothing more. Nothing less. Unclose your mind Mr. or Ms. High Horse.

True, we live in the age of capitalism and everything revolves around money, but we don`t live at the times of the European industrialization when capitalism was really brutal and children worked in the mines. Japan is supposed to be a first world country and while on many levels it is not, is a legal system in place. I am not going to go into a debate about Japanese legal system now and its deficiencies, but there are laws that regulate labour and companies like Geos or Aeon, for example, follow those laws. From my experience with those companies I can say that they provided their employees with unequivocal employment contracts drafted in accordance with the Japanese law that regulates labour standards in this country.

Now back to the clowns like W5, IES, RCS and others.

Those people are not following the law and in many cases they are cashing in big time due to the ignorance of their employees who do not know the law. In other cases these companies get away with a lot of things because people come to them in desperate circumstances, for example, visa expires in one month. As a result, those people accept whatever and then feel grateful even.

Lastly, companies like W5 or Interac employ many people who are non- native speakers of English and who do not come from the first world countries. Now, here I am not going to argue that non-native speakers are worse teachers than native speakers. Actually, in many cases people who learnt English or any other language from zero are better teachers than the native speakers.(take my Japanese teacher from England who had an MA in Japanese, for example) And this obsession with learning English from the native speakers exists only in Japan (as far as I know).

The point that I am trying to make here is that those people are made to feel extremely lucky to have been given a job because they are not native speakers. So those people are reluctant to make any noise or report violations made by such companies. They tend to accept whatever (most of them, pardon my generalization) depending on the circumstances. As a result, companies like W5 realize that they can get away even with less pay and more abuses and exploitation. They can cut the prices and offer even cheaper deals for the Boards of Education.

I don`t want anyone to be unfairly treated, not to mention exploited. But I want everyone to take the opportunity and know their rights at least when it comes to the basis employee rights (10 days of paid holidays, clear work rules and etc)

Read the contracts carefully and don`t sign something you do not like. When in doubt, check the General Union`s website that explains Japanese labour law really clearly.

Kobe`s board of Education has really little money because the city of Kobe is still paying for the stupid Kobe Airport. If I am not mistaken, Interac did their first ALT program. But then W5 came on the scene and offered a much cheaper deal to the broke BOE. Now all of Kobe is under W5.

If you are an employee of W5 or IES (those are the two most abusive companies who have no respect for the Japanese Law), call the Labour Standards Office or get in touch with the Union. Why should you be eating cup noodles while the owners wearing Channel?

Yahright!

when you when for your interview did you have it with the trembling vampire wannabe(Japanese) ?

I don't know how many of you are still reading this page. However there is help if you are willing to work for changing how these dispatch companies treat us. If so, please contact me at this email and I may be able to point you in the direction of people who can and will help you get the results. It's frustrating at times when we think that we don't have anyone here for us, but if we stay strong and in numbers fight against the injustices then well, we an succeed. By the way I am also an ALT who works for IES, who knows how things are, not some person trying to scam you at all.
fushishou@gmail.com

If you are an ALT working for W5 Staff Services please e-mail me at

naive_kitten@hotmail.com

Get in contact with the union ASAP to get better pay conditions and alo enrolement in health insurance. Don't let this company screw you over anymore!

EMAIL: info@nambufwc.org

you might be getting screwed without knowing it! get in touch with the union ASAP!

Say `No` to Exploitation and Abuse ! Say `No` to Job Instability. Know your rights and fight for them! Just because you are here for a couple of years does not mean that it is ok to be screwed by companies like W5.
W5 is # 1 on the list of the worst companies according to the recent poll of over 100 people, IES is # 2 and Interac is # 3.

Hey there! I used to work for W5 Staff Services. W5 started out as a fairly decent company, but they have gotten worse over the years (thanks to the nasty Hungarian aka the Red Devil whose responsibility is to `take care ` of t he gaijing )

If you work for them now - in Tokyo or other parts of Japan - get in touch with the union. Find other people who work with you and talk about the issues you are having. Check out the General Union`s website for information about the law and what you can do to change this industry.

http://nambufwc.org/current-disputes/w5-staff-services/

Good luck!

LOL regarding the Red Devil. I think he is a communist - this is why he keeps decreasing the pay. I think they should rename ALTs into English Language Volunteers - that would be at least honest.

Agree re the Union though - don`t suffer the Red Devil and W5 in silence - find other people - kick some arse!

I had an interview with W5. Unfortunately, the only thing I can say about them is bad. After my interview they sent me an email asking me if I would eat lunch with the students and clean the school with them. I replied saying I would be happy to eat and clean the school with the students. But my only condition is that I can't eat pork. Without the courtesy of a phone call the replied telling me I was not a good fit for the job.

Avoid W5!

Attention: W5 All ALTs in Tokyo Area! (Interac, IES, W5 Staff )

To all the ALTs working in Tokyo area! Learn about your rights – come to the union meeting on July 4th! . Meet other people like you and fight for direct hire together!

Recently, there has been an explosion of so-called dispatch companies that hire English teachers and dispatch them to public and private schools. Those companies do not care about education or about children- they are only after the money.

This industry is a gigantic sweatshop. Teachers do not get the minimum guaranteed by the Japanese Labour Laws and because they do not know their rights, those abuses often go unreported. Teachers get manipulated by their employers because they depend on them for their visa or the apartment where they live.

As a result of these appalling conditions, the turn-over rate in this industry is extremely high. Obviously, it is not good in the field of education where it takes time to develop a relationship with the students. It is not good for the children, the English teachers or the Japanese schools. It is also not good for the Japanese taxpayers because the Boards of Education end up purring budget money into the pockets of those dispatch companies, while getting a really poor end result.

Please pass this message to anyone who you think might be interested. Come and learn about your rights and about what you can do to fight the abusive companies like Interac, IES, W5 Staff Services, JALSS, RCS and others.

Nambu ALTs General Meeting

July 4, 2009 (Saturday)
6:00pm to 9:00pm
Nambu Office, Shimbashi
Map: http://nambufwc.org/contact

Respect: W5 gives very little respect to their employees. People are bullied, harassed, belittled and intimidated for asking simple questions regarding their contract, life in Japan, paid holidays, labour rights, scheduling, issues at the school, taxation and etc. Every question is seen as a threat to the company and every request as a waste of time. There seems to be a consistent effort to give the ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers), who constitute the majority of W5`s employees, as little information as possible. Often times the questions go unanswered for weeks. W5 often does not reply or even acknowledge e-mails.

The ALT co-coordinators usually tend to adopt one particular tactic – they feign ignorance in everything – they never know the answers to any questions. As a result, everything has to go through one person at the top making the structure and operation of W5 Staff Services very autocratic. To add to that, W5 does not really negotiate with their employees – it is always their way or the highway! Take your pick.

Pay: Pay for the ALTs in many places decreased below 250 000 a month. For example, people in Tokyo last year were getting paid 220 000 per month plus the perfect attendance bonus that was deducted if the person was absent/late.

Benefits: there are absolutely no benefits, no health insurance, no housing allowance, absolutely no perks! What benefits ? People who slave for W5 do not get even the minimum guaranteed by the labour standards law!!!

Work environment: varies from school to school. Some schools are friendly and some do not like `foreigners` to be there.

The ALTs are supposed to create something out of nothing with no support from W5, who ,during the contract bidding, certainly told the Board of Education that they have a curriculum/lesson plans/ materials/flash cards and etc. Often ALTs work at several schools thus having to carry around all their teaching materials with them. For elementary school ALTs this can be a heavy load – laminated flash cards are quite heavy. Not to mention that it is very difficult to teach when you do not have a permanent storage place with all the materials you need in one place. Some schools are friendly and have good printers, so printing flash cards is not a problem, while other schools kind of do not understand why the ALT needs to use their equipment – wasn’t W5 supposed to provide all that for the teacher? Why does the school have to pay for the printing, paper and so on? (but you can see here again how W5 keeps all their money in their pockets)

Career/ Potential Growth. There are natural limitations to a career as an ALT, but for some who are ready to sell their soul to the devil and start bulling other foreign teachers to keep them in line there is a chance to advance. You can get a position at the head office and become one of the beating sticks aka management.

Co-worker competency. Most of the ALTs at W5 do not meet and greet other teachers – W5 keeps them isolated on purpose. In this respect, W5 is much worse than Interac. There are no meetings to exchange teaching ideas, experience and so on. W5 does not want their teachers to talk – the less they know the better it is for the company. God forbid people exchange information and start organizing. Because of this, it is kind of hard to talk about this issue. The W5 office staff`s ALT co-ordinators cannot really be considered as co-workers and they are really competent at feigning incompetency.

Job security. There is not security to speak of – everyone is on a temporary contract all the time getting zero brownie points. Whether or not your contract gets renewed depends on many factor – is W5 going to get the same BOE next year or are they are going to be kicked out? Have you proven your loyalty to W5 by asking no questions, by accepting whatever they give you, by acting subservient to your co-coordinator? Are you prepared to agree to work for even a lesser pay than last year so?

http://nambufwc.org/current-disputes/w5-staff-services/

Hit them where it hurts the most - on thier pocket , on their pocket, on their pocket baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Less Channel suits for Keiko Hashimoto - the evil and greedy owner of W5 Staff!

when, who, where, why, what????????????? but the most important question is HOW???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? how do such unprofessional companies stay in business? how do they get BOEs contracts ???????????? How do they handle all the people with such unprofessional staff in the office? How is the infamous evil Hungarian Tamas Takacs getting away with so much bullying? with such rudness and disrespect??????????????????????????????????

If you are an ALT working for W5 Staff and you get bullied by Tamas - document everything and get in touch with the Labour Standards Office or with the workers union in your area!

Power harassment, in which someone in a superior position takes advantage of their power to cause distress to others, is now rampant in the workplace in the form of bullying, pestering and persistent reprimands, amongst other behavior. It has even become a way for failing companies to drive employees to quit.

One out of every three people who consulted the Labor Standards Bureau in fiscal 2008 about being pressed to resign complained of emotional problems, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has found. Those citing harassment in the workplace as the cause of their emotional problems exceeded 30 percent, which was significantly higher than those who were affected emotionally by bankruptcy and other challenges. The statistics confirm that the large numbers of lay-offs that have resulted from the current economic slump have had major emotional impact on workers.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, of the consultations made by workers with prefectural labor bureaus in fiscal 2008, 22,433 cases were regarding “encouragement to resign,” while 32,242 cases were concerning “bullying and harassment.” Both figures were the highest they have ever been.

if you all don't like those companies/working condition/etc, why you dare to work in japan?
in other words, you can work in your home country, not in japan
if staying in japan is what you really want, accept what you get, you deserve it

Looks like we have a staff member of one of these idiotic companies, probably W5, on here now.

if you're talking about me, nah, i'm not a staff of those companies. besides i'm still a student and haven't even got a job

i was just simply curious why there are so many ppl complaining about alt dispatch companies and they still keep working for them. what'ts the point in doing so?
most of alts could have stayed in their home country and worked to get paid, but they did come to japan, right?
and alts chose their jobs which doesn't require any certification but for bachelors degree whatever their major was, and no special skill is required either. it seems pretty easy to get hired as alt, so what's wrog with the working condition which deserves for one's ability?
can anyone give a good answer?

Let me answer your questions with some questions:

Does the dispatch company tell the Board of Education, hiring their services, that they are simply supplying an unskilled, unqualified person (accept for what is determined by government as being necessary), of low ability, who has made the decision to come to Japan, and thus should be grateful, no matter what?

Nope.

Does the dispatch company detail to the Board of Education what their ALT cost structure is?

Nope.

Does the dispatch company detail to the Board of Education what their terms of engagement with their ALT’s are?

Nope.

You know why it is three times “NO” don’t you – it’s not because it is “confidential” – it is because Boards of Education would not use their services, if they the truth was documented – they would not be able to pretend they do no know the law is being broken – they only use dispatch companies, because the dispatch company absorbs the liabilities for the crimes involved (“we did not know the naughty dispatch company was doing that – we just wanted a native English Speaker, for the children”), and in that process of denial and cover up (provided by the dispatch company), they save money.

As for people who find themselves trapped by merciless dispatch companies – well, those dispatch companies, in the hiring process, often make themselves out to be a hell of a lot more than what they actually are. Also, once you have invested in something, it is often not easy to just to walk out (usually due to financial constraints). Not every-one can simply run home to Mum and Dad, like a college student can, after realising they have been fooled by a dispatch company.

Apart from the above, your “put up and shut-up” attitude sounds like wishful thinking.

Dispatch companies also have the same attitude.

THORN

thank you for the answer, Thorn

however i still don't understand. why don't those alts with complaints save up money to go back as soon as they notice they've been "trapped"? is it that difficult to live on their salary while saving for the seemingly best and only hope for the better life? (or most of alts are doing it?)

as for the ignorance of BoEs, i suppose they won't be changing at least for the next 10 yrs. the kind of collusion between dispatch companies and BoEs sounds like open secret

wishful thinking...useful appropriate expression for i haven't tasted the real world yet. i'm not on the alt's side i'm on the students' side. trying to learn english in fact just consuming the whole alt/eikaiwa business thing. but wait, isn't jumping at the easy job like alt a wishful thinking? japan is one of the capitalist nations foreigners/socially weaker ppl/minorities tend to be exploited. why so many college graduates get "trapped" in it? don't they think there are something more stable, reliable job at their home? or were there good old time when being alt was a much better choice of life?

TY

i thought it is too ovbious to say but...in japan , "okyakusama wa kamisama desu" logic is everywhere
how to put it in english? maybe like "consumers are our god".

education is a service to consume, eikaiwa is also a service to consume
BoE is "okyakusama" for the dispatch companies
students are "okyakusama" for BoE ( and the dispatch companies)

and this "kamisama(=okyakusama)" is for some reason very strong over the seller

Why don’t they save up money? I am sure they try to, but their terms and conditions of employment are so appalling, such an apparently simple task as you express, it is not as easy as it first appears.
Who says the BOE’s are ignorant? Not me. They are the complete opposite in fact, but pretend to be ignorant, because the dispatch company takes away the need for them to show any due diligence or to be accountable. In terms of what the benefits are of having a probably selected and well taken care of ALT – yes, I agree, the BOE’s are extremely ignorant (which partially explains the fact that in Asia, Japan is at the bottom end of the scale, in terms of English Language proficiency).

Easy job? You think so? If it is done properly, “easy” is not an appropriate word. Because of the shocking work conditions imposed by dispatch companies and eikaiwa, however, “taking it easy” on the job, or not being able to find motivation, ends up being a rather natural consequence.

A lot of ALT’s and workers in eikaiwa, hope for a better life, working as ALT’s or as booth monkies in eikaiwa – not exactly a crime, in my opinion, especially when their employers are lawless pricks, and there are laws in Japan, if properly enforced, that would guarantee a better result for them.

This is Japan – we define your role as being this – we think it is easy – you shut up or go home. Yeah, right.

THORN

by easy job i meant alt/eikaiwa is a job which is easy to get. i don't think teaching your first language is easy at all esp if you're not experienced. it must be terribly difficult to teach my first language to ppl whose first language is totally different from mine. and i might be seen like a representative of my culture. thats more than i can deal with. but well i still don't think it is impossible to do their best for their last hope(stay moderate, do plan well). otherwise "better life" is always impossible wherever they are.
now it is clear that at least you are the one not seeing it is your fault that you yourself decided to take your job (if you're one of the complaining alts). lame. why no carefulness? why no self-responsibility? i dont want to believe this but nobody saves some money before coming abroad for the case one needs to go back soon? how can a grownup, a collge graduate who certainly has with common sense can be "trapped" by such an easy bait? sad. as long as ppl don't see the reality and admit their own fault, they wouldn't be getting out of the bad cycle. instead they do the same thing again and again. maybe smart ppl who notice the alt/eikaiwa business aren't for them would return home quickly instead of keep whining.

now i feel sorry for an alt in my school, that one might also be feeling "trapped" inside and still trying to play a role as an alt in real life. ha, anyway japanese students are not that stupid yet, some of (or most of) us are tired of "altness" and english classes which are apparently ineffective. no doubt those alts/eikaiwa teachers are "taking it easy" not many japanese ppl expect them to take it serious.

thank you for your answer, it was nice to see there are so different way of life i didn't know. although it was self explanately from the beginning. it teaches a lot. hope you would find "better life" at home.

on a last note, assuming you're an alt or in eikaiwa (because you used "we") and judging from the time you posted your comment...are you checking this kind of website at workplace im afraid? if so what a disgrace but it again explains a lot.

TY

On the contrary, if you are not an experienced language teacher, or are not experienced with Japan, the job does feel easy (initially) - most take all the instinctive and obligatory but skin deep politeness as being deeply personally and complimentary in nature (not knowing, it is just typical Japanese surface bullshit most of the time), and think that all there is to the job, is talking one’s native tongue. After a while, they usually become aware that there has to be more to it, and start feeling a combination of being bored and feeling very much guilty.

Some new comers do at least try their best to be enthusiastic in the interim, but when they start to really wake up to what a zoo the whole industry is (“gaigin on display”), and start to get a better grasp of racist Japan’s acute grasp and application of “defined role”, especially relative to foreigners, well, the motivation starts to ebb away, even if one is qualified, or knows what they are doing. Some gifted teachers I know got personal satisfaction out of doing a professional job, particularly as AET’s, where often, the Japanese teacher would leave them to it, and not attend (that’s how good they were), but with the lack of professional recognition, in terms of cold, hard cash, and other benefits – they eventually ran out of puff, just like most do.

Getting trapped? Japan seems pretty exotic, when you are new to it, and the eikaiwa companies and dispatch companies over-exaggerate the savings potential – by the time a person really learns the ropes and wakes up, 6 or more months have usually gone by. For many, once lured in, and caught in the poverty trap, it can be years before they get out of it.

The Japanese exploit this initial “hooked on Japan” phase many new comers fall into – and boy, do they like NEW play things, let me tell you.

So, what you are really saying – fools deserve to be fooled, and one should not try to get a better deal, for oneself, or for all, but rather, should shut up, stick strictly to their Japanese “defined role”, cop injustices on the chin, OR go the hell home.

You know, while I hate to admit it, I tend to agree. The instinctive arrogance and ruthlessness of the Japanese, hidden behind all of that fake ass kissing, bowing and “respect” bullshit, will always be there.

Gaigin per say have a strictly defined role – and if they don’t like it, really, the Japanese don’t give a shit, not when you dig below the surface of public manners and graces, which really, is pretty meaningless crap, once the novelty wears off.

Gaigin will always be just that – gaigin – in the case of native English speakers, there defined role is to make the Japanese laugh, to be voice models, and live specimens to culturally study and analyse. It is a fact, so why try to do more than you have to?

It is all VERY easy, if you just say the magic words “this is my defined role, I am a zoological specimen, and so be it, I will take whatever peanut you want to throw at me, because I am just a monkey in the cage”

Yes, in many ways, you are correct.

Oh, when I used the word “we”, I was being facetious – I was pretending to be a Japanese person, commenting on the situation.

THORN

The abuse of the law in Japan relative to Eikaiwa and Dispatch Companies all hinges around the fact that the Japanese themselves respect and revere the notion of “defined role” in society, more than they do the actual law itself.

There is a drum that beats away in the black hearts of the Japanese that will never be superseded by laws that have sprung from a constitution imposed by conquerors from the outside.

If it is considered uniquely Japanese, by the masses, then a blind eye is turned – by the masses themselves and their government.

In a way, “monkey in the cage” helps the Japanese, despite suffering humiliating defeats throughout Asia during the second world war, cling on to those lingering notions of Japanese superiority.

“Come in, and prod and probe this foreign curiosity, in a safe and supervised Japanese setting”.

It is a true perversion – it has very little to do with legitimate language instructions, as the results show.

There is no other nation on earth, where the masses would so readily pay through the nose, to shonky business operators with checkered pasts, to sit down and intermingle with a foreigner, simply because the “specimen” on display is a foreigner.

You sit there, and they get off on the fact, that they have got you were they want you, and can scratch away, however they see fit, you being paid not to take offence, and heaven help you, if you do.

It is you, in your enclosure, in a strictly pre-determined role (foreigner, for “interaction time”), and on the other side, the Japanese, prodding and probing away, often quite rudely, while giggling like retarded children on the loose in a candy shop.

Eikaiwa in particularly, deliberately enflames the cultural and racial divide, and profits from it – indeed, Eikaiwa is a phenomenon, that has sprung from the Japanese fundamental belief in their racial superiority.

The Americans should have executed the Japanese Emperor, for war crimes, when they had the chance.

THORN

Thorn,

You have written your greatest post ever. I don't think that it can be topped. The fact that the Japanese continue to use "gaijin" so casually only solidifies your points. I think it's an interesting observation to make that post war Japan hasn't really escaped from the archaic 19th century philosophy of nationalism. While all developed nations struggle to maintain their identity through culture and language, they do so in a manner that attempts treat others as equals. While there are certainly problems in the West, Asia really struggles with superiority. Why must we focus on who is better? This line of thinking got us all into WWII in the first place.

One thing must be said, Japanese do not want to gain an intercultural understanding of the world. Why, because this is Japan and it’s so “different.” Countless examples can be made about this: the “special” apples and strawberries, the “4 Japanese” seasons, the “healthiness” of natto… The list is ever expanding. The main point to make is that Japan simply wants to observe and discuss the unique nuances that separate them from the rest of the world. They fish for compliments and praise through the guise of humility.

However, in 50 years time, this all won’t matter. The declining birth rate and lack of family life in Japan will only continue to force Japanese deeper into depression. This hive minded society has revealed its darkest secret to all: purposelessness. Japan has redefines amorality to the point that there is nothing; life is fleeting and this must be accepted. The desire to maintain superiority is stifling the need for the next generation to flourish. If there is to be any advancement at all, there must be a change in focus: prosperity. This will never happen and Japan will continue to struggle.

Your own views are racist. Don't tar everyone else.

Many students study, for the sake of....uhm study.

Your warped world, while not completely without base in fact, is a huge exxageration, and it would be quite amusing, if the stronger nuance, that you're a self hating cryptofascist, wasn't so nauseating, sickmaking and superceded all other physical responses

Thank you for your compliment

THORN

I trust you were carrying your finger printed gaigin card when you typed your message – perhaps that shows why you are so sensitive to the topic of racism and Japan.

Meantime, if Japan did not have deep seated racial issues, you know full well that freak shows like Eikaiwa would not exist (in their current form), and complaints about illegal terms and conditions of employment would not so easily and readily fall on deaf ears.

You also know full well, Eikaiwa, and dispatch companies, get away with what they get away with, because “gaigin” issues are really not worthy of paying much attention to.

Meantime, recently, in a court case, where the plaintiff was accusing the defendant of racial vilification, the judge threw the plaintiff’s case out of court, having ruled the plaintiff’s allegations of racism, were actually racist.

Yeah, right.

For sure, there are individuals in Japan who are not racist, but saying that the majority of Japanese people are racist, is an accurate thing to say. If it easier for you to bury your head in the sand, like an ostrich, by refusing to acknowledge it, lest you be branded as a racist yourself, well, that’s your choice.

As for me, I see no point making something that is quite real a “taboo” subject, since no catalyst for change can be generated from silence and denial. I guess you would have liked me to clarify that some Japanese are not racist – ok, have done that above.

THORN

The Japanese are naive racists? Whereas the folks back home are more sophisticated ones? Sorry Thorn, I can't buy into your generalisations. And let's face it, that's a key feature of racism: generalisation.

Let's take this guys post, for example. Despite the fact that Japanese people hardly ever post on this site: despite the fact that this poster is therefore far from being typical, despite the fact that many 'gaigin' have very similar attitudes to those that he or she does, you nevertheless choose to bombard him with your over the top notions of the 'typical' Japanese character. Sorry Thorn, just can't buy it.

To Student San – consider this example (re Shut Up and Go Home)

Here is an example for you, let`s say you always wanted to go on a home stay to the States. You planned your schedule, wrapped up your affairs in Japan and after all the preparations you finally went to America.

But let`s say when you get there, the conditions described in one of the glossy brochures on home-stays that you read actually do not match the reality. So what would you do? You invested so much into coming to a new country, you wanted to have a good time, you wanted to study English or just to experience a different life style, but instead of a friendly family with 2 kids and a dog you ended up in a dusty basement with a single father who hasn’t cleaned the house in years and the only reason you are there is to support his drinking habit and his son’s kindergarten. (I am not attacking single fathers here. This is a real life story of my Japanese friend who was actually made to clean the house and take care of the little kid)

So what would you do? Would you just not even try to complain? Would you just shut up and go home? Even if going home is as easy as packing your bag, it is not that simple!

No one had a right to treat you like that. You were taken advantage of. The conditions were not what was promised. You have all the right in the world to complain about the situation!

Oh, but one might argue that in this case you were the paying customer and you had the right to complain when you did not get what you wanted, while in the case of ALTs it is not the case.

Consider this – many college graduates choose to travel on a working holiday visa. They can choose from a list of countries like England, Canada, Japan, Australia, France and other countries. So when they come to Japan, they start contributing to your countries economy, they pay taxes here, buy services etc. They made a choice to come here based on the appeal Japan holds for them. They could have chosen a different country and could have contributed to a different economy. So in a way, one might argue that they are customers. We live in the Global World and Global Economy. Most of the people can choose to go anywhere they like. But if this kind of treatment of ALTs and foreign workers will continue - people will stop choosing Japan!

You can say that it does not really matter to you, but it does. Read the demographic statistics for Japan and learn about the current trend in population decline and then we can talk.

To further this point, many ALTs get recruited from the overseas by companies like Interac. The recruiters they send overseas are really suave and put the best face forward for the company. People make their decision to go with one company over the other based on a certain criteria, based on what was promised. So when the working conditions don’t match what was promised they have all the right to complain and protest and ask for the promises to be fulfilled! Setting up a life in Japan is not easy – just getting the stupid apato alone is a major headache. It takes a while to orient yourself in a new country and make sense of what is going on.

So let’s leave those black and white arguments , please!!!!!!!!!!

Another cheap-ass eikaiwa company is Peppy Kids Club, iTTTi Japan which I work for. They make the teachers write down only their lesson time on their timesheets even though they work more than that. They're avoiding the shakai hoken for the teachers, who should be labeled as cheap part-time peasants.

These videos are no longer available but have been re-uploaded here:
http://interacunion.org/2007/11/26/interac-in-the-news/

Really? I can still see them. Thanks for the link just in case the vids do disappear, though.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

interacunion.org

The Final Word.

If you click on the play button on the videos, you can see that they were taken down because of a copyright claim by NHK (I suspect that they were tipped off by Interac). Their icons still show, but the videos are gone. Feel free to re-download them from me and repost them from the interacunion.org post.

OK, now they're gone. I'll fix this later. Thanks!

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

The following writing is for the purpose of reporting to the reader of the business practices and related information with regards to the following company (which has several official names):

Zenken, Zenken All, Zenken Ziak, Minerva, Minerva Kodomo no Eikaiwa.

It is my understanding that this company is based from Osaka, and due to several acquisitions / name-changes can be found listed as any number of above names. Confusing to say the least. Hereafter referred to as “the company”.

The following issues are both from personal expeience as well as related to me by current/former employees of this company. Read and use this information to help make a better educated decision as to where you decide to work in Japan. Below you will find information on the types of work offered, the condition of the work offered, and information on the management of the company, as well as support information relating to the above.

In it’s current official naming, Minerva Kodomo no Eikaiwa, this company offers 2 main types of employment:

1. ALT work at Elementary Schools and Junion High Schools in several prefectures.
2. English Teacher at a branch of the company, typically carrying the name Minerva, or a variant on this name.

ALT Position:

The company seeks new employees for a 1 year contract to teach as an ALT. Missing from this contract is the actual specific school(s) which the employee will be teaching at – and for good reason. I will explain.

When the employee signs the contract and enters into an agreement, the agreement is in fact that you are agreeing to be a 1 year on-call employee with no fixed workplace. This in effect allows the company to simply not pay a salary should it be decided that your services are no longer needed at a particular location, while also allowing the company to avoid 30 days advanced notice for contract termination pay to the employee. The employee is left in a limbo state, where the company is under contract with employee but due to having no specific locations of workplace can simply leave said employee with no income for however long it sees fit.

Also of note for the contract is the type of employment, in this case it will be listed as Part Time. There is issue with this, in that the labor standards laws of Japan define full time employment as being over a certain number of averaged hours each working day over the period of a year. From my recollection, if the company is assigning the employee to attend schools for 5 days a week, even taking into account the unpaid summer holiday (over 1 month), still averages to be well above the cutoff for Full Time classification.

Working for this company requires the use of a mobile phone, which you are expected to report your daily activities such as departing from home to work, arriving at work, and completing the work day via e-mail. The company will not reimburse your use of a mobile phone regardless of it being a personal phone or not.

Working conditions vary, and are typical for most ALT type jobs in public schools. The larger the town/city/area you are asked to go to, the more students will be present and the more workload you will have.

Regardless of scheduling, the company requires you to stay at the school for a set period typically from around 8 am to 5 pm. Many schools which have a very light schedule will often allow the teacher to leave early if the teacher asks for it. This action is apparently frowned upon by the company – which states that permission is needed from the company for each day of leaving early. Generally speaking, this rule has been ignored by most ALT staff, as direct communication with the school’s principal will suffice.

The company, stated in the contract will pay based on a day, not hourly wadges. They will also reimburse any monies needed for transportation and have been reported by several to be flexible in the area of transportation allowance despite having a maximum cap. Since the company controls the ALT for some pretty large areas, some teachers will easily exceed this cap in transportation fees.

The relationship of The Company and the schools they dispatch teachers to is mediated by the school boards controlling said schools. It is this client-server relationship that will make discussing problems very difficult with both the school the employee is at, and the company. The company’s main goal is to maintain a good relation with the school boards, as they are being paid from them. Issues brought up to the company are generally overlooked, not properly investigated, or in many cases completely ignored for the sake of keeing the client-server relationship healthy. Do not expect emails to be answered or telephone calls to be returned despite being assured they will be.

Support as an ALT for The Company:

Do not expect emails to be answered or telephone calls to be returned despite being assured they will be.

Expect your salary to be deposited on time with little problems.

Expect The Company to properly deduct things such as health insurance, and other required deductions correctly.

Expect a high level of incompetence when dealing with staff at the offices in Shinjuku. Due to their staffing problems (staff of Japanese nationality included) wherein they suddenly quit without notice due to working conditions. If you are determined to have an issue taken care of expect to spend a lot of time waiting, and several attempts to contact the company just to get the issue brought up to the proper management.

Management of The Company:

The Zenken name and variants listed above are a direct result of the parent companies buying other companies and merging them into one larger company. The current manager of the ALT related jobs is a Canadian by the name of David Easton.

What to expect when dealing with management:

Double talk. A good example would be the public proclamation to 10 ALT-In-Training staff that The Company is seeking ways to get around having to pay half the health insurance for their ALT employees. Paying half the health insurance is required by law, if you the reader did not know this already. Why this was stated to new employees is baffling, but regardless, it happened.

Management also has power issues. Management likes to assert by management position stating things such as “I tell you what to do, and you do it. You don’t question it”. While it is the right of a manager to speak thus to employees, it leaves much to be desired in terms of proper social interaction and manners.

These issues are typical of a socially malfunctioning individual and not uncommon in Canadian society, but it is extremely rare to find such open, direct, and blatant verbally abusive behavior from someone in Japan. Clearly a case of a lack of proper integration into Japanese society. This is even more evident if the employee has opportunity to sit, listen and observe to managements actions and speaking for extended periods of time in the main office (see above waiting for a long time to get things resolved).

Straightforward. Management still maintains a fairly straightforward approach to issues, differing greatly from the typical approach of most native Japanese management. This has its good and bad points of course.

Minerva, Minerva Kodomo no Eikaiwa (Children’s English Conversation):

Beware of this brand and the work they offer. Casual searching for this will find many, many posts about the nature of this beast.

This position has 3 flavors:

1. A position which sees you go to the same location(s) each work day.
2. A position which sees you on a rotating system wherein you are never in the same location more than one 4-month period per year.
3. A position which is a mixture of the above 2 positions.

Primarily a class of under 8 students who range from 0 to 14 years old or so. For the youngest students, the parent(s) are usually present during the class. Practically, for students who cant talk themselves in any language, the employee is teaching the parents and dancing and signing for the children.

Minerva brand has their own materials, books, cards, and an entire system of teaching using said materials that is actually fairly well thought out. Unfortunately, because the majority of Japanese Staff (who are primary teachers in Position #2 listed above) speak very little English and are either unaware of the companies procedures – or choose not to follow them it makes for a varying experience depending on where the employee is assigned at the time.

Once again, as seen above for ALT, the contract conveniently leaves out a fixed workplace, instead stating it is the head office.

Why should the reader be careful of this position?

1. Schedules are not fixed and can change with little or no notice. If this means you don’t teach on a particular day/week/month, you are not paid any salary.
2. Extreme part-time. Even the employees who have been working in the Minerva area for years will attest that they are not getting full time hours. From the mouth of the Minerva trainer came the following “you can expect usually 3 days of work, for maybe 1 to 4 classes each of those days”. Multiply this by the salary (which is based per-class, not daily), and you will find yourself walking home with 60-100k yen in a month. Can anyone actually live off that?
3. The conditions of this position are so terrible and un-livable that it is the belief of many that the specific details of the position are withheld for as long as possible so that the prospective employee is led along long enough that they have little choice but to accept the offer when they do finally get the details. One person I spoke to had to wait for over 3 weeks from job offer to get an actual contract, at which time it was stated that they would not actually have work for the person for another 2.5 months!

In summary, while avoiding some of the major contested issues such as paying health insurance, entering national health insurance and pension systems that many large chains try to avoid for cost savings measures, there are issues abound that more than make up for this. Be wary of this company, not because I and some of my friends have been treated badly but because these issues are not limited to a small number of people. Use the internet and you will find the true nature of this beast.

For those of you considering coming to Japan for the first time, do not be intimidated by the amount of negativity regarding companies here. There are just as many success stories, it’s just that people tend not to write about it when there are no problems.

For all, good luck in your employment.

I found this interesting site in which some angry and mistreated person expresses his true sh iTTTi feelings about about an eikaiwa company.
www.peppykidsclub.com

The above link is quite graphic so be warned in advance. But I guess this is how some people feel about their Eikaiwa company.

Peppy Kids Club sucks! I hated working there! Some of the kids are fun to teach but it is true what people say about the company. I have lived and worked in the eikaiwa industry for many years and I have never seen worse- even though I used to work for Nova! I wish someone could start spreading the word on some Japanese websites about how this company violates Japanese Labour Laws and mistreats their staff (Japanese and Native teachers) AND their customers. The Japanese customers have a right to know! It is true that many of their classrooms are filthy and dangerous and should be closed down. Much of the information on that shocking website is TRUE! It operates as a combination eikaiwa and day care center with no real regard for anything other than profit. It does not give a shit about its human resources and actually encourages teachers to quit if they get fed up with their shit. That way they can brainwash another load of poor losers like me who are stupid enough to ever work for them. Stay away! Help this cancer ridden company to die!

Wow. Was searching for stuff on Peppy and was so surprized to see that there are people out there- I am assuming peppy workers past and present- who have a lot of negative info about that company. I've been contacting some people on facebook and myspace to get more info and it seems like there is a real backlash happening against the company. Kinda makes sense to me. I mean, if your 'english conversation' school has native teachers as part of the selling point than wouldn't it be in your companies best interest to treat those employees as valued employees? Seems like the opposte is true. Is it really true that even though you are a full time worker the company doesn't pay for the National Health plan? Isn't that illegal? From what I have heard it is. And having no description of hours worked or location of schools in the contract- isn't that also a violation? Shouldn't those basic things be in the working contract? Is it true that you have to work on national holidays and sundays but don't get any extra pay? Isn't that illegal too? I dunno. Somethings fishy with this company. Fascists!

That dudes website about peppy is awesome! He should totally be sued and then it would drag that shite company thru the mud like it deserves. I feel sorry for the kids. They are the ones who are really losing out here. Japan should be ashamed of itself for letting companies like ITTTI, or PKC or whatever the fuck they want to call themselves to protect themselves from legal bullshit- fucking cowards, liars and cheats. You can run, but you can't hide any longer. The truth will set you free! SHINE A BIG LIGHT ON PEPPY and expose it for the exploitive company it is! Most of the people who work just have no idea how in the dark they are and how badly they are being shafted. Contact any lawyer or better yet- contact the media. TV stations and newspapers love this kind of crap! Remember how much air time NOVA got when it was finally exposed?

they basically all suck cuz jpese laws suck and dont protect workers. instead the laws protect the companies right to exploit and rip off teachers, parents and children. It's a disgusting shame. When the fuck are the jpese ppl gonna wake up???

Question- When the fuck are the jpese ppl gonna wake up???
Answer- Never

Hey thanks alot everyone for the great and honest feedback and comments. If I plan to come and work in Japan I'll do my utmost best to avoid these companies and I'll be spreading the word too...

Why would you want to work for a company called Peppy Kids Club? What would companies back home think of that stupid name on your resume?

I work for Interac. I must admit i have sweet deal. I took a remote location... even asked for it because i am a country boy that likes to avoid the big cities. I really have no complaints since I have many years of previous work experience in personnel and office management and HR. Most of the important things are typically handled but the staff in my main office. I try not to have big expectations nonetheless and that makes me happier. The one special thing that this job has given me is the open door to Asia. I get paid to live in Japan and I do travel around on the weekends ... mostly just for cost of fuel. The Onsen`s are inexpensive and there is too much to see in even one year. Festivals are often. National Holidays are numerous compared to US so even a `sports day` national holiday. Also, i don`t just get 1 month off .... with Golden week and other breaks it is more like 10 weeks off -- of course i am in a remote location so Interac can`t make me work on the breaks but they want me on call... they just don`t call due to the remoteness of my location. I never had more than two weeks paid vacation a year before in America and never had so many holiday days. So what do I do during that time? I travel cheaply to Thailand, Indonesia, and China! I can`t complain. Although i made more money in the US I still had less to spend. US taxes are incredibly high. Now, i have a great deal as i get free rent in a shack and teach at one school-- but it is all mine to enjoy by myself. Maybe i am being taken advantage of somehow or another but I can only count my blessings for now. And really there are so many.

USA Interac Head Office Gaijin

It's quite obvious that you're an Interac head office person pretending to be an ordinary ALT, and talking up how wonderful it is in Japan, and how Interac made it all happen for you.

Fact is, posting fake emails like this is disingenuous. The fact that you're prepared to try to trick people with these fake Internet postings makes one wonder what other tricks and stunts you're prepared to pull.

Anyone thinking of working for Interac and reading this - be warned.

And as if pretending to be an ALT wasn't bad enough, talking a load of over-the-top BS about the life of a regular ALT is yet another example of the trickery and deception these companies engage in. I doubt you'll find many ALTs having this dream, "paid vacation" existence in Japan, courtesy of Interac.

I love my work. This is my 4th year in my schools, and I've been here for more than 6. I started out with Eikaiwa, and at first it was alright, and then it started getting really ugly, so I asked the company to outsource me as an ALT since there was a project that came along. That way I could work in the schools and not have to do as much Eikaiwa. Then the company went bankrupt (so I guess you guys can all guess which one I was working for) and the ALT contract ended up getting picked up by another company (take a few guesses who). I was hoping for the direct hire at first, but when I went through the company, it became a bit easier, especially with teaching resources and all. And so, like I said before, I love my work. My company is surely taking advantage of a lot of teachers, I'm sure (people don' like the small wages, or the pay cuts during school vacations, or the lack of employee sponsored benefits [shakai hoken]), including myself, so it's my responsibility to do something about it. Demand better. So, that's what I'm doing. But the company and the schools/work aren't the same thing.

Anyway, my point is, it doesn't have to end up coming down to some company trickery or anything. I know a lot of ALTs through my company, and they all have different working conditions depending on their BOEs; some like it and some don't. Just because some teachers have it rough in Japan doesn't mean that everyone will. And I wouldn't say it's a paid vacation (far from it, in my opinion), but more that it is what you put into it: ALTs who work hard and plan and prepare for their classes will find the job a bit easier (and no, my classes don't consist of much singing, dancing or other monkeying around), but teachers who come and think it's a free ride or an easy job will often find themselves in bad situations, and end up not liking the job, and they may put a bad reputation on the industry (not that the companies need any help making a bad reputation). But none of this kind of stuff ever comes up during training. Nobody talks about the fact that this is a real job and you're expected to work for it.

So what do you do if you don't like Eikaiwa/ALT? Well, few of these teachers ever really dream of stepping out of this bubble while still in Japan (translating, working for large corporations, working in trade industry, etc.) and even fewer ever realize that dream. So you can just stick it out for a while working as an English teacher, but the thing to remember, like a "manager" in Eikaiwa once told me, nobody's forcing you to stay. You have to look a bit and do some searching for yourself, but there are other things to do. And if you don't like it, you can always go back to your own country and get a job there.

Japan is wonderful for some people, but it should come with an advisory sticker: if you're naive and aren't really sure what you want out of the experience, chances are you're going to be taken advantage of.

Maybe another advisory: this is Japan, not your home country, so don't expect things to be the same (not sure if someone's already tried to argue this point already).

As a former eikaiwa teacher I saw this work!

Go to your local prefectural labour board and file a complaint. And keep on doing it until the company changes. You do have rights in Japan and there are laws to protect workers. Many companies in Japan operate illegally. The only reason they can continue to do so is because the teachers and staff who work for them are either complicit, ignorant of the law or just don't care.

If you care at all about society, morality, justice and the welfare of good people- GO TO YOUR LABOUR BOARD and PROTEST! Get it on the record. One voice can do little but hundreds of voices can bring change.

He who stands for nothing stands alone. Fight!

Contact your local media. Contact labour lawyers who may be sympathetic. DO SOMETHING!

What was the main job of the Nova staff apart from making sales: taking complaints - acting on the ones that involved beating up on individuals whilst deflecting those that threatened policy. Do you think it's any different with government and city offices? On the contrary. Those guys aren't distracted by a dual purpose. They don't have to make sales. Their sole purpose is put complainers off. For every complaint that works there are thousands that don't.

I've had to listen to so many bad stories about Eikaiwa and aLT e.g. one of my friends said that he got screwed on his final pay by iTTTi Japan, another got fired for no reason by Geos...

I'm currently working for jalss(started working in January 2010).
I want to know if the company is reliable at all, I haven't got my first pay yet but I saw on the posts JALSS is one of the worst dispatch company in Japan. I'm not sure if the rumour is true otherwise, I would've quit job right away. I want to hear from about this company from previous employees. I already know many dispatch companies are
unreliable and they don't pay salary on right time.
Please help me on this. Any kind of informations would be appreciated.

do you know the contact address for union in Japan?

@11.15 You need to work on you grammar, and does that company hire Non Native speakers to teach English? Information is uncountable!!!

dont even talk about it

JALSS are very unreliable, contact the union a.s.a.p to get help. www.nambufwc.org. Google 'jalss' and you will find a site called JobVent which is useful too.

* You need to work on your grammar. Does that company hire non-native speakers to teach English? Information is uncountable!!!

You only get to be pedantic if you actually know what you're talking about. Take your attitude elsewhere please.

no wonder they change the name of there company so often... they hire pediphiles to teach unattended with kids!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/11/02/bc-madercharg...

this company is PURE EVIL

Wow, that news about the peodaphile teacher that used to work at Peppy Kids Club, iTTTi Japan is definitely shocking !!! It must've been heaven for him to work with young kids and get paid for it. The company must've been so dumb to let him get through the cracks...

I spent some time hiring for a well-known eikaiwa and I've been WAITING for this to happen for years now. Most Japanese eikaiwa don't even make the most cursory of background checks of their potential new employees (bar anything that would prevent the Japanese embassy from issuing them a visa in the first place). I brought this up time and time again with my managers and got blank looks all round.

20:46 The only things scarier than that article it the source...The CBC is a very scary, state-controlled media outlet. Pedophiles and the CBC both scare me.

The "Under 30 Hours" rule might be a fabrication, or not entirely true, but regardless, it is the worker who have to bear responsibility for it. Take a typical worker in such a situation, who works for a few years with a business and is told of this 'rule'. The worker, in most cases, believes the employer. We can't all have eaten from the Cynical Old Timer Tree of Knowledge, you know! When that worker changes jobs and finds that he or she must join NHI or Shakai Hoken, the full weight of back-pay is made his or her responsibility!

The fact remains that unless one has the ability to read legal and contract Japanese, almost ALL information out there in other languages is 2nd or 3rd hand. It comes down to a choice between trusting the employer, whom you have no reason to distrust at that point, or trusting in the alarmist and clearly one-sided warnings of message board posters. Which do you think most newbies would choose?

So quashing the evil eikawas out there is a noble cause, but therefore squishing the victims of those companies is not. The attitude I read here so often that such workers are 'scum', which is often followed by some boast about amazing salaries and working conditions and a call for eikaiwa workers to go home, is elitist. I am not implicating you in this charge, but so many of the crusaders against eikaiwa are blinded by their own predjudice. Eikaiwa is NOT synonymous with 'badly run company', and many workers are first seduced and then trapped by the promises of these worst examples.

Sorry - exchange 'eikaiwa' with 'English Instruction Providers'.

no, not English Instruction Providers either. English Coach.

i think a lot of the disgruntlement comes from people who suddenly find they were probed in the dark hole after a year or 2 of doing a "job". Then the bitter and jaded attitude really starts to rear up. Honestly tho, the youts that come out here fresh off the boat have only themselves to blame for their own ignorance. this is no longer a valid excuse, as the internet provides ample information for potential newcomers.

looking back, coming from canada and being here for almost a decade now i can easily see why so many people give up living here after 1 or 2 years. but again, they only have themselves to blame if they cannot take steps to integrate into society (even partially), learn the language (not just speaking enough to pick up girls) including reading kana and a minimum of 2nd year elementary kanji.

finally, people who complain about their situation should know that a very large portion of japanese employees also do not get proper enrollment in nenkin, hoken etc.

take your friend/woman to the government office and ask questions if you cant for the first year - but if you cant do that on your own after that, then best just to get out and stop making things worse for people who actually try to "live" in japan as compared to people who just come here for the sex, drugs, booze, smokes and parties.

I JUST did a blog post related to this I think..

http://www.chris-ballard.blogspot.com/

It's the 3rd post down.

Wow maybe they should be Creepy Kids Club with the creeps and pedophiles that they hire. If I was a parent I'd take my precious child out of that fake club

Anyone out there with more information on this, can you post what you've heard.
It's not looking good for the Interac bunch.

http://www.generalunion.org/alt/news/741

Hardy HA HA ! ! If it is true, it could not have happened to a nicer company ! It is about time someone or something caught up with that parasitic, exploitative bunch of %4!@holes !

Seriously. Try Altia Central. They are way better than the other dispatch companies and they treat ALTs with a lot more respect. No dodging Shakai Hoken and Unemployment Insurance etc and they pay on time every time. They also provide a lot of support and quality resources and find new hires apartments near the schools. Oh, and you get a car too if you are in a rural area. I've had no problems at all with this outfit. You won't get rich working for them, but you'll have a much better life in Japan than with any other dispatch company, if you want to work in the Japanese state school system - ES and JHS.

dont come to Japan without actual skills and experience perhaps... there are plenty of real jobs for those with skills and some understanding of Japanese....

get out of the english "teacher" jobs asap. THAT will make your life in japan "better".

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