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The Problem With Dispatch ALT Jobs

The Fukuoka General Union has a long read titled The ALT Scam that points out the problems with BOEs outsourcing ALT jobs.

The main points are:

  1. ALT jobs have been deemed a "service" so local governments can save money and avoid the management of foreign employees.
  2. It is illegal for sub-contracted ALT teachers to work at public schools
  3. ALTs/Dispatch companies don't know if they will get the next job/contract
  4. Most ALT jobs advertised will not eventuate because they do not exsist and nobody knows if they will eventuate
  5. Dispatch companies take big margins and the more they squeeze the ALT the more profit they make
  6. Sub-contract ALTs are in reality double taxed losing 5% to consumption tax
  7. Dispatch companies make profits from not enrolling ALTs in SH
  8. A sub-contract ALT has practically no recourse if the school deems them sub-standard
  9. BOEs ignore the Ministry of Education directive to employ ALTs directly
  10. The BOE has no way of knowing if the dispatch company is breaking labour laws

Get a cup of your favorite beverage and read it all...

h/t Mogura

Comments

LOL...

You have to love these jokers. Why 10 points: "cause it sounds official" (G. Carlin)
Point 1. Deemed a "service"... maybe if more ALT's were actually qualified to teach and not the proud holder of an Arts degree they may have an argument. If the union was really concerned about their status as educators they would all be holding Edu. degrees. (been to their meetings and I know they don't)

Points 3 and 8: This is the union philosophy in a nut shell. We are protecting ourselves from being fired. The fact that I'm a poor teacher should be irrelevant. Give me a break. Improve your skills and they will have no reason to let you go!

Points 5 and 7: The contracts are open to bidding. The BOE chooses the company to go with, usually based on price. Interac is a great example of a company that undercuts all others and therefore they get a lot of contracts. Their margins are very thin. They are able to bid so low because they don't factor SH into their bids. I agree companies that bid like this are not good for their employees or for education as the employee will always end up with the short end, but you don't have to work for those companies either.

Point 10: That could be said about any business. It is in no way unique to education. Point being it is not the BOE'S obligation to make sure all companies follow the laws, it is up to each company themselves.

Just like everything the union does: poorly thought out. (see their crusade for SH)

Absolutely spot on @16.47

This problem isn't exclusive to ALTs.

Construction, Engineering, Programming, Journalism, Photography, and Public Accounting are just some of the industries that have been working similarly for a long time. The point that should ring loudest though is that this will not go away. There will be more contract work in other industries in order to curb costs and maintain profit margins for large corporations. This seems to be the natural evolution of working in the 21st century. Tenure and "Lifer" job opportunities are going to continue to lessen in offers making it a much more competitive work environment in virtually every industry.

***Point 1. Deemed a "service"... maybe if more ALT's were actually qualified to teach and not the proud holder of an Arts degree they may have an argument. If the union was really concerned about their status as educators they would all be holding Edu. degrees. (been to their meetings and I know they don't)***

You are such an idiot! Where do you come from and do you have an Edu degree and would it really matter if you did? Are you some stooge from somewhere? Because I have an Arts degree so screw off.

Look here:

askville.amazon.com/teacher-degree-teaching/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=4065133

You really don't understand how the world works do you? Especially with education. Do you think having a real Edu degree for a teacher is critical like it would be for a Dr. to have a medical degree? A lot of pub school teachers in the States don't have Edu degrees and it really doesn't matter so much as long as they have a 4-year one and they have passed certain coursework and other requirements to get their certification. For example if you want to be a math teacher in my home state you need any degree but need X number of credits in math and of course get your certification. It's written in the policy. Same with Science, etc.

You have been to their meetings and you know they don't? How? Is it a topic of conversation?

Get off this degree crap!!

RE point 3
The reason that they don't know if they have jobs next year it that the BOE doesn't select the successful tenderer until the end of the school year, it has nothing to do whether the ALTs are good or bad.

RE point 8
I'm not objecting to your saying that poor teachers should be scrapped, but the article gave the example of a male teacher who was kicked out because the school wanted a female. I don't think this has anything to do with whether the ALT was any good or not.

Nothing to do with poor ALTs,

A little defensive about your degree?

So you went to Uni, we all have. Big deal. My point being, the Union likes to go on about the "state of education" in Japan, and how they are out to improve it. An Edu degree would add to their credability that's all.

The ridiculous video of them out in front of the Tokai Board talking appealing to parents of students saying that "your childs ALT didn't get a TB test before they started!" "Can you imagine! Oh what a world!" That's their arguement? WTF!

To say that people will teach better if they know they have a multi-year contract (as the Union does) is horse-shit. A multi-year contract has the reverse effect in that it allows the ALT to do fuck all and still have a job next year. People don't teach badly because they only have a one year contract, they teach bad because they are bad teachers. Would you try to be a better teacher if you knew your contract was up for renewal annually?

The union is not concerned about education, they are concerned about their members keeping their jobs. Their line of reasoning shows that all too clearly. To say that a company or school should not be allowed to fire a bad teacher is ridiculous. If every Union member had an Edu degree, then they would have a more solid foundation to stand on when they go to BOE's and try to bully them into direct hires. Why should a BOE be bullied into hiring an under qualified individual? Do you think that would happen in America? Not bloody likely; so why should it happen here?

Go to a meeting and I assure you, you will find the lowest level of teachers at these meetings. Ask them where they work. They typically work for the worst companies. Why is that? One would assume they would get better jobs if they could. It's not as though better jobs don't exist. It seems they would rather spend their time fighting to keep the same shite jobs they have, rather than inprove their skills and go get a better one.

To say that just because you hold an Arts degree in _____ (fill in the blank) and you are a native speaker, does not necessarily make you qualified to teach. And no an Edu. degree does not make one a good teacher either, but at least we know there is a standard they have met. As you have stated people in your state can teach science if they have X number of credits. I have no problem with that; but again, to bully a BOE to hire unqualified teachers is silly.

So no I won't get off the Degree thing. Not until the Union stops acting like myopic jackasses. Look what a mess they made of SH! Did they really think the companies were going to willing pay for employees to join? Of course the companies would do everything it could not to. So those of us with full time employment were suddenly going to be reduced to part time to skirt the law.

By trying to improve education and conditions for people they were able to make it much worse, and not just for their members but for everyone. The companies weren't going to pay, but the individual would still have had to, and with 2 years of back pay. Instead of fighting for the repeal of the 2 years back pay, they instead decided to focus their efforts on trying to make the BAD COMPANIES PAY! That's your near sighted Union for you. They could care less about you, and it shows in every statement they make.

The Union protects the worst of us teaching in Japan, and they hamstring all the good people.

Does the topic of degrees come up at Union meetings? Of course it's not an official topic. Don't you talk to people after or before meetings? I should say that the head of the Union from Osaka does hold an Edu degree. So I guess there is at least one.

Relax about your degree, and focus on becoming a better instructor and you won't have to rely on the Union to help you keep your job.

Look at all the ALT stooges.

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Most Japanese teachers don't have education degrees either. Teacher training in Japan is piss poor. Even if you do have one, you might as well throw it in the toilet for all the good it will do you working in a system where the nature of the education is centrally mandated, and you have very little choice as a teacher about how to teach.

I would definitively say, that an education degree is uneccesary to being an ALT. They should fire all their lousy state teachers on a yearly basis as well.

TB tests are mandatory for all teachers.

A few years ago an elementary school teacher, who skipped his annual chest x-ray caught TB and half of the kids in his class contraced it from him.

If you were a parent you would not be passing it off as a frivolous claim.

Dispatch companies do not provide chest x-rays/check ups to save money.

Are you saying that it is OK to do so?

Let's keep this in perspective.

Yes, the practice of sub-contracting may be against MOE's directives. But money doesn't grow on trees. Without backing it up with hard cash, the directives are nothing more than window dressing. With the govt in record debt, I doubt the BOE will be showered with money any time soon.

Yes, ALT's predicament is abhorrent, but so are the freeters, net cafe refugees, karoshi salaryman, even the full time Japanese teachers are worrying about salary cut.

The bubble has long bursted.

Yet each year the government of Japan has loads of cash to offer for visiting university instructors to visit Japan. They are taken to model schools where the programs are working, the facilities have state of the art materials and support equipment and everything is happy happy. They return to their respective nations with tales of how Japan will take over the world, etc.

Just google: Japanese School Bus for images and you will see how the rest of the world thinks Japanese students ride to school. Public relations stunts like that one make it through the filter into the outside world. No wonder everyone thinks LJ is just for complainers.

Do I think it's ok to not give teachers a health check? No, and I didn't say that. You're getting lost in the details the Union tries to spoon feed everyone. Look, the Union has no real arguements so they resort to fear mongering. "Do you want your child to die of TB?! Cause they will!" That's what they go and protest with? They might as well have dressed in their bunny costumes again.

Of course it would be great if everyone got a health check annually, but as I stated previously, the union doesn't give a shit about you or I, unless your in the Union, (and by the sounds of your protest I assume you are.) They are focused on sticking it to the "MAN." The MAN in this case being those big bad dispatch companies. They feel they have been treated unfairly and they want the companies to pay.

I agree, some of the dispatch companies take advantage of their staff, and they are bad places to work, but no one is strong arming you into working for those companies. Use your legs and go get a better job! If we want economic darwinism to work we have to let the weak of the herd die. Don't work for a bad company and with any luck they will no longer be able to do business.

Do yourself a favor if you want to work in this country; and no one is forcing you to stay, improve your teaching skills, get an advanced degree if you like but stop your bitching. If you had either of those things would you really be complaining about a TB test?

***A little defensive about your degree?***

I graduated from the University of Phoenix. It is a good degree because it's accredited so screw off!!

chill out about the degrees dawgs, y'all be idiots anyway

To Uni O Phoenix:

My grip is with the Union not your degree so relax. The Union is useless, and unfortunately when they go out and protest about silly things we all get painted with the same idiot brush. When they bitch to whomever they feel they want to bitch to, they end up speaking for all of us, NOT just their members. Again see their tremendous work on the SH issue, when they played a large hand in almost making the entire industry part time. I could care less about your degree, I will quote myself from above "And no an Edu. degree does not make one a good teacher either..." (08:42)

My point is that if you work for a company that continues to treat you and the rest of their staff like shite, then get a better job. If you can't get a better job, why not? If you improve your teaching skills, for example by getting an Edu degree, or a masters or any form of improvement. PLEASE NOTE: GETTING AN EDU DEGREE IS NOT REQUIRED TO BECOME A BETTER TEACHER!!! you become more employable. So make your self a better teacher and you'll get a better job. What is so difficult to understand?

See point 8. "A sub-contract ALT has practically no recourse if the school deems them sub-standard" SUB-STANDARD, their words. Why do schools and companies have to keep bad people? The Union doesn't want companies or schools to be able to fire shite teachers!

This is proof the Union don't care about education, if they did they would never have printed those words. It tells all their members not to worry if they are poor teachers. If a company or a school was foolish enough to hire one of their members and they turn out to be a useless teacher, too bad, the school or company and students must endure their poor performance until said teacher dies or decides to leave.

It is not in a company's best interest to fire a good teachers so if you are one of them (a good teacher), you have no worries. If your not, make yourself one, and don't rely on the Union to save your job. Again: What's so difficult to understand?

P.S. I assume "It is a good degree because it's accredited so screw off!!" is the Uni O' Phoenix equivalent of "I know you are but what am I" Please next time either contribute to the discussion or at least have a better comeback

To be honest it doesn't really look like a good degree to me:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Phoenix

  • "The University of Phoenix has been the subject of legal and regulatory controversies as a result of its student recruitment practices and accelerated academic schedule. There has also been concern expressed by former students, employees, and academics that in its quest for higher profits, the university has compromised academic quality."
  • "The student-led learning teams that abbreviate class schedules and substitute for direct instruction time, the use of part-time faculty, high-pressure sales techniques, coupled with minimal acceptance standards to degree programs and low graduation rates as measured by Department of Education standards are some of the sources of this perception."

Hey, are you sure this place isn't run by GEOS?! :-)

I've never seen any correlation between teaching ability and having or not having an edu degree. Absolutely none.

Really? I absolutely have. Not necessarily with MA's (although the type of people who are generally attracted to MA's relevant to teaching tend to be capable teachers who are interested in becoming even better) but definitely with education degrees.

Given that in Australia (as an example) ELT teachers are awarded a higher salary grade if they hold an education degree compared to a degree in an unrelated subject ti would seem that some other people might agree with me too. Of course, you get terrible teachers who hold education degrees and great teachers who don't, but in most cases I don't see how studying the theory and practice of education can't have a positive impact on a teacher.

The main points are:

1. ALT jobs have been deemed a "service" so local governments can save money and avoid the management of foreign employees.

So what? If you had to do all the work that the BOE does and in addition try to manage one or two foreign employees who may or may not speak your language, and may or may not understand what they're supposed to be doing, wouldn't you want someone else to be able to take care of that job? (I mean in a small area 1 or 2, in larger cities where there are more ALTs this might be easier for the BOE to manage foreign employees because they could get funds to have someone to manage them).

2. It is illegal for sub-contracted ALT teachers to work at public schools

I'm not sure if this is true, but I've heard that BOEs get an allowance from the Ministry of Education for hiring ALTs from dispatch companies. So they can get money from the government for doing something that's illegal?

3. ALTs/Dispatch companies don't know if they will get the next job/contract

And the Union does?

4. Most ALT jobs advertised will not eventuate because they do not exsist and nobody knows if they will eventuate

This is the same comment as above, just reworded a little. And the Union knows if ALTs will get contracts and have jobs?

5. Dispatch companies take big margins and the more they squeeze the ALT the more profit they make

The Union also expects its members to pay dues. If by squeeze, they mean deducting salary for being late or absent from work, or not doing your job, etc., then again, why should someone be paid for not doing their job?

6. Sub-contract ALTs are in reality double taxed losing 5% to consumption tax

That wouldn't change the ALT's salary. That 5% wouldn't be going to the ALT, it would be going to the company. If you were a direct hire, you may or may not have a better salary, depending on what the BOE would offer to pay you directly.

7. Dispatch companies make profits from not enrolling ALTs in SH

How do they make money by not enrolling ALTs in SH? I've heard the rumors about getting a bit of a kickback from private companies when ALTs sign up for their insurance, but haven't seen any actual proof. If anyone has some, please post it. Saving money is different from making a profit, not that I approve of the companies taking advantage of the ALTs. I hope that ALTs who work for dispatch companies ask their companies to put them on SH. They can't fire you for just asking, and they can't say no until you've at least asked. If they do say no, you should ask them for a legitimate reason. Point is, most people don't have the guts to ask, because they're afraid of their companies.

8. A sub-contract ALT has practically no recourse if the school deems them sub-standard

As stated in earlier posts, if you're not good at your job, you should be fired.

9. BOEs ignore the Ministry of Education directive to employ ALTs directly

This sounds like a rewording of number 2 above. Perhaps a sub-point?

10. The BOE has no way of knowing if the dispatch company is breaking labour laws

Again as stated in a reply above, is that really the BOE's problem? It sounds like the company's problem to me.

Hey, anybody can get a degree. Look at brain fried by drugs Obama!!

A plain ole degree does not count for much these days. Better than nothing but not a guarantee of anything.

In regards to this problem, both sides have 'issues'. As a whole, the image of an ALT is bad. Why? Well, because usually they are. Don't like it? Take you head out of the sand and face up to reality. It's a bunch of people with little or no teaching experience, who happen to speak English. If you suck, you deserve to get fired.

Why don't BOEs want to hire directly? Because of so many bad experiences (and the whole not wanting to face reality thing.........but that's a different story altogether). They can't speak Japanese, they want help finding an apartment, they do an average job and complain when something isn't how 'we' do it 'back home'.

How do you change the image? Hire qualified people. plain and simple. Not necessarily and educational degree, but a certificate in teaching English as a second language should be a requirement I think.

I am an ALT. I have just lost my job. Who do I blame? Well, the city has changed to a bidding system this year and my company didn't win. Was my company using illegal contracts? Yes. Did I know? I do now. Will I try to make them pay what they are legally obliged. Damn straight. But I will use various Japanese unions and go from there.

I have a degree, a qualification in teaching English, I have business level Japanese skills. My schools, students and parents think I'm indispensable. The BOE says I'm the best they've had. In the end does it count for anything? Doesn't look like it. That's life I guess.

Find another job, continue to educate myself and go from there.

However, any constructive advice always helps, so I have open ears.

"(been to their meetings and I know they don't)"

I doubt you have ever been to any of union meetings. If you had, you would know that we don't ask for longer contracts as you suggest here:

"To say that people will teach better if they know they have a multi-year contract (as the Union does)"

We demand direct hire. Being directly hired qualifies you as a General Employee (一般会社員) and you have more rights under the law than anyone with a contract. STRAW-MAN ARGUMENT.

"Look what a mess they made of SH!"

How did the unions of Japan make a mess of Shakai Hoken? Did we craft the legislature? Set the rates? Determine who is required to sign up? Determine who is eligible (which is everyone in a company of five or more people - EVEN part timers)? No, we didn't. We fight for our members' rights to Shakai Hoken when they want it(and not all of our members want it, we only fight for those that want it). Calling us "myopic" based on your misunderstanding of what we do is a double whammy. FALSE PREMISE and AD-HOMINEM.

"So those of us with full time employment were suddenly going to be reduced to part time to skirt the law."

If your company did this, it was irrelevant because even part timers are eligible for Shakai Hoken. You are probably referring to the 29.5 hour "rule", which is not a part of the Shakai Hoken law, that is an internal guideline used by the SIA to determine who they are going after. That is your (and possibly your company's) misconception of the law. They can drop you down to two days a week, but that doesn't make you ineligible for Shakai Hoken.

"The companies weren't going to pay, but the individual would still have had to, and with 2 years of back pay. Instead of fighting for the repeal of the 2 years back pay, they instead decided to focus their efforts on trying to make the BAD COMPANIES PAY! That's your near sighted Union for you. They could care less about you, and it shows in every statement they make."

This shows how little you know about the issues at hand. If you are eligible for Shakai Hoken (you probably are) and your company hasn't been paying for it, then the company MUST pay back into the system, they don't have a choice. If you have been enrolled into Kokumin Kenkou Hoken (as you are required to be if you are not on Shakai Hoken) then YOU won't have to back pay into the system. Educate yourself on Japanese law before you go use another FALSE PREMISE to lob more AD-HOMEMINEMs.

To another Anonymous user:

"How do they make money by not enrolling ALTs in SH?"

If they enroll you in Shakai Hoken then they have to match the contributions you make into your insurance and pension fund. This costs them money, and they don't want to do that for you. Shakai Hoken 101.

"The Union also expects its members to pay dues."

Which is a no brainer. Office space, electricity, telephone lines, computers, fax machines, website fees, office supplies, full-time organizers; everything you need to run an organization costs money. Unions don't get free stuff from the government, landlords or utilities so our members pay to keep the organization going. Everyone living in the real world understands this, and doesn't need to bring it up or have it explained to them.

"10. The BOE has no way of knowing if the dispatch company is breaking labour laws
Again as stated in a reply above, is that really the BOE's problem? It sounds like the company's problem to me."

BoEs shirk responsibility by hiring dispatch companies, they know what goes on and don't really care. I have experienced this first hand, and with other members of the Osaka based General Union, we forced my BoE to hire directly by contacting the Osaka Labor Bureau and applying a constant pressure. Interac was kicked out, and the BoE hired ALTs at a higher salary, with full insurances (including Shakai Hoken).

I could easily spend all night correcting logical fallacies and misinformation in this thread, but the bottom line is this people: Don't listen to anonymous union bashers on the internet if you want direction on how to fight back. Contact your local union and talk to us directly. We will help you, if you are willing to fight.

Solidarity.

Unionfacts.org

Unions for the most part lost their way a long time ago when they became more of left-wing political party using union dues for their agenda, not the line workers. Oh, and the Teamsters union working with the mafia did not help. Hence why union membership is collapsing in most developed countries...

Can union people stop using the tired "brothers and sisters" and "fight"? Isn't there enough fighting in the world already?!

As I live and F'n breath, a response from an actual union member!

I must have stirred up enough of a shite storm in your mind for you to grace us with you response. Fantastic!

"I doubt you have ever been to any of union meetings. If you had, you would know that we don't ask for longer contracts as you suggest here:"

Whether you think I have been to a meeting of not is irrelevant. I know the Union loves their secrecy when it comes to membership, so I shant name anyone, but I'm still waiting for your planned strategy to wheel out your man who was unfortunately put in a wheelchair to use him as your spokesman for the benefits of SH. Thankfully he did have insurance. (Is that enough proof of my attendance for you?)

"We demand direct hire. Being directly hired qualifies you as a General Employee (一般会社員) and you have more rights under the law than anyone with a contract. STRAW-MAN ARGUMENT."

Statement 9 from above:
9. "BOEs ignore the Ministry of Education directive to employ ALTs directly"

Statement 3:
3. ALTs/Dispatch companies don't know if they will get the next job/contract

So which statement is about direct hires then 9 or 3?

Say what you mean, and mean what you say please. Perhaps people will stop considering you guys a joke then. (although I doubt it)

So 3 is also about direct hires then and not about multi-year contracts as I have assumed? I will quote my original post where I quoted George Carlin "Why 10? Because it sounds official!"

The Union has argued that people will teach better if they don't have to worry about whether they will get another contract next year. If you don't trust me, let me quote from the National Union Voice Winter 2008 page 6: "Security of employment is one of the indispensable conditions for ensuring quality of work." Your words not mine. So where have I misinterpreted the unions stance? The Union is clearly concerned about getting multiple year contracts because it ensures "quality or work". Read your own propaganda before you accuse me of making a straw-man.

How did the Union make a mess of SH you ask. You made a mess by speaking for all of us. You will argue that you are negotiating with gov't on behalf of your members only, but the decisions that are made in that room effect everyone, not just your members. The low enrollment of Union members should be a very large indicator as to how most people feel about the GU. Most of us would rather you not speak at all, and just go quietly into the night. Please go somewhere, anywhere but here.

How many people have you asked that want to enter the system haven't? Most of the people I work with don't want to enter and choose to go with a private carrier. Under your negotiations we suddenly have no choice. Wasn't the Union at one time offering discounts for 3rd party insurance for it's members? Hmmm, where did I read that? Now I remember, again in your own propaganda! Need to refresh your memory? Please see: National Union "Voice" May 2003 page 7.

If your really concerned about people's well being and you want people to enroll, then why wasn't the Union trying to get rid of the 2 year back payments? People would have joined in droves if that would have happened. Instead you are more concerned about having people in only SH. This backs up my theory that the Union is only concerned with making the company pay. People's welfare comes a distant 2nd, and quality of education 3rd.

Don't believe me? How did the 3 people feel in Kurahiki City with the Union's victory of running Interac out of town? Were they happy when they had to move to "neighboring areas of Okayama" when only 4 of the 7 got directly hired? How is a reduction of English teachers good for education? I've never known a case where increasing teacher hours, and reducing a student's opportunity to have one on one time with his/her teacher to be a boon to education. If you need to refresh your memory on this check your own propaganda on page 1 of "Interac News 10 Jun 2009"

I encourage everyone to read the Union's ridiculous self aggrandizing propaganda; it will be quickly obvious the last thing these guys are fighting for are people's welfare or education.

"I encourage everyone to read the Union's ridiculous self aggrandizing propaganda; it will be quickly obvious the last thing these guys are fighting for are people's welfare or education.
"

I don't need to read the propaganda... I lived during most of it! YOU are correct. The UNION had does nothing but work hard at keeping itself in the spotlight at the sake of the people it claims to represent. I cannot name one school that is better place to work at NOW because of what the UNION has done!!

I cannot name one school that is better place to work at NOW because of what the UNION has done!!

Thank you Anonymoose for this ARGUMENT FROM IGNORANCE.
I can name one. Matsubara, where I led the fight, joined the union and helped to succeed in kicking Interac out of the city. The fact that you ignorant of the union victories, doesn't mean that the union shares in your failures. (Now be sure and move that goalpost!)

As I live and F'n breath, a response from an actual union member!
I must have stirred up enough of a shite storm in your mind for you to grace us with you response. Fantastic!

Wow Anonymous. I have never seen anyone so excited to receive a mental beat-down in public. If you were able to string together a valid argument, you might be able stir up a "shite storm", but as your arguments are all elementarily flawed, you are much less like the migraine you wish to be, and a lot more like a mosquito bite.

Thankfully he did have insurance.

Whether my friend in Osaka decides to go public about his medical condition (which I am sure he isn't thinking about right now) it really isn't necessary. I know two non-union members that I can tell stories about, both hit by cars, one foreign one Japanese, that would have gone bankrupt if they had not been on Shakai Hoken. You don't want to be on your traveller's insurance like Interglobal if something bad happens to you. It took a friend of mine nearly a year to get reimbursed for a simple dental claim through them, I can't imagine what a bigger injury would cost you up front, all in hopes that you might be reimbursed someday.
And no, that doesn't prove that you attended any meetings. Since I'm in Tokyo, I haven't been to a GU meeting in several years, and I also know that a member of the GU is going through rehabilitation. It means you hear rumors. Good for you.

Statement 9 from above:
9. "BOEs ignore the Ministry of Education directive to employ ALTs directly"
Statement 3:
3. ALTs/Dispatch companies don't know if they will get the next job/contract
So which statement is about direct hires then 9 or 3?

They are both about direct hire, then entire article is about direct hire. Did you not see the section called "Why the Fukuoka General Union is fighting for direct employment"? It is a simple statement. Did you not understand it? Number three happens because number nine happens. Had I written this myself, I probably would have put number three after number nine.

So 3 is also about direct hires then and not about multi-year contracts as I have assumed?

Correct. Which is written in the article.

I will quote my original post where I quoted George Carlin "Why 10? Because it sounds official!"

Yeah. I like Carlin too, but this has nothing to do with the string of fallacies that you call an argument. Do you have something against the number ten? Only have nine fingers? Has Joe Pesci not answered your prayers?

The Union has argued that people will teach better if they don't have to worry about whether they will get another contract next year. If you don't trust me, let me quote from the National Union Voice Winter 2008 page 6: "Security of employment is one of the indispensable conditions for ensuring quality of work." Your words not mine. So where have I misinterpreted the unions stance? The Union is clearly concerned about getting multiple year contracts because it ensures "quality or work". Read your own propaganda before you accuse me of making a straw-man.

Why bother bookmarking pages in our browser or googling things if you dont have the power to comprehend what you are looking at?
1) That page you refer too is about part-time university teachers.
2) The article we are talking about ALTs; in a lot of ways a very different situation.
3) The article we are talking about has a section called "Why the Fukuoka General Union is fighting for direct employment".
4) Most importantly, and the top of the page that YOU brought up it says:
"At Mukogawa Women’s University, we saw the beginning of outsourcing from 2006, and because the number of classes for our union members fell as a direct result of this, we have been demanding the abolition of outsourcing there ever since." How could you miss that?!? It was the first thing on the page! The Union is clearly concerned with direct hire. Once again, you are wrong.
http://www.generalunion.org/voice/voice08winter.pdf
I have been in the union in Osaka and Tokyo, the strategies never involve winning "multiple year" contracts for ALTs. I have already explained why direct hire is preferable. Here it is again.
"We demand direct hire. Being directly hired qualifies you as a General Employee (一般会社員) and you have more rights under the law than anyone with a contract"
My analysis of your point stands. STRAW MAN ARGUMENT. Next logical fallacy please...

How did the Union make a mess of SH you ask. You made a mess by speaking for all of us. You will argue that you are negotiating with gov't on behalf of your members only,

Yes I will argue that, and it is true.

How many people have you asked that want to enter the system haven't? Most of the people I work with don't want to enter and choose to go with a private carrier. Under your negotiations we suddenly have no choice.

Here is where you are doing nothing but scapegoating. The fact of the matter is you don't have a choice. Go the the Social Insurance Agency and tell them that you aren't signed up for Shakai Hoken or Kokumin Kenkou Hoken. Ask them if that is ok. According to the SIA, you are breaking the law, good luck with that.
Let's break this down,
1) Your company (and you) break the law
2) a union member complains because they want to follow the law
3) the company, and you are forced to follow the law
4) you whine, and blame the union...
If you don't want to follow the law, go back home and break laws there. Don't blame the union because your hiding place got destroyed.

Wasn't the Union at one time offering discounts for 3rd party insurance for it's members? Hmmm, where did I read that? Now I remember, again in your own propaganda! Need to refresh your memory? Please see: National Union "Voice" May 2003 page 7.

http://www.generalunion.org/voice/voice10.pdf
Now I do find this interesting, because I wasn't in Japan in 2003, and had not read back that far. I did see this part, which you obviously ignored:
"If you currently do not have any health insurance or you are using a private insurance company, or you have been forced into company health insurance outside of the Japanese government- operated Shakai Hoken or Kokumin Hoken"
No where does it say or imply that this is a permanent replacement for Shakai Hoken or Kokumin Kenkou Hoken. It sounds to me like this is a temporary solution being offered. I do not now how it worked in 2003, but since I have been here, anyone can sign up for Kokumin Kenkou Hoken (it is made primarily for the unemployed and self-employed) so it isnt something that you can be forced out of. Misprint perhaps? Were things different for Kokumin Kenkou Hoken in 2003? I will give you half a point for effort, but overall your power of comprehension fails you again...

If your really concerned about people's well being and you want people to enroll, then why wasn't the Union trying to get rid of the 2 year back payments?

Uh, probably because the union that we are talking about is a Labor Union. We deal with Labor issues, not legislative issues. You are thinking of "lobbyists". Go blame them for something.
Did you know that if you sign up for Kokumin Kenkou Hoken or Shakai Hoken when you first arrive in Japan like you are supposed to, there is no back pay? That should tell you something, but I will spell it out for you because I have doubts about your reasoning. It means that you are supposed to be enrolled, period. The two year back pay is a penalty for not doing what you are supposed to under the law.

Instead you are more concerned about having people in only SH.

No, the SIA is concerned with you being in Shakai Hoken. We are concerned with the welfare of our members, which includes making sure our members are taken care of and dont go bankrupt if they fall ill and cannot work.

This backs up my theory that the Union is only concerned with making the company pay. People's welfare comes a distant 2nd, and quality of education 3rd.

Your STRAWMAN ARGUMENTs back up your theories. Nothing more.

Don't believe me? How did the 3 people feel in Kurahiki City with the Union's victory of running Interac out of town? Were they happy when they had to move to "neighboring areas of Okayama" when only 4 of the 7 got directly hired?

http://interac.generalunion.org/news/544
I don't know them, and I doubt you do either. When I asked about it, I was told by those involved in the case that there was a lot of bad blood and they indicated that they weren't interested in that BoE any longer. If they were union members, they easily could have sued for their job because it is illegal to fire a union member for peaceful, legal union activities. If they weren't union members, they probably weren't interested in fighting anyway and just chose the path of least resistance.
http://www.generalunion.org/alt/news/524?lang=en&id=524&b=39&nl=1&pr=1
I can tell you that my fight in Matsubara was long, so long that some of the ALTs went home, most found other jobs, one became a translator etc. Is this the unions fault that the BoE in Matsubara decided to stall instead of following the law immediately after the Osaka Labor Bureau told them to? Is it the unions fault that the BoE chose to lower the amount of teachers in Kurashiki? No. You are blaming the union for the despicable actions of the BoE, based upon you CONFUSING ASSOCIATION WITH CAUSATION and your desire to spread FUD about the union.

I encourage everyone to read the Union's ridiculous self aggrandizing propaganda; it will be quickly obvious the last thing these guys are fighting for are people's welfare or education.

Yes, I also encourage everyone to read what we print. If we did not print our side of the story, our "propaganda", only the logically challenged, misinformed union bashers like Mr. Anonymous here would be heard from on the internet.

Have fun putting together your next string of logical fallacies as a response Mr. Anonymous, [ad hominem] which last I checked, was Latin for "coward", [/ad hominem]. I won't be back to read it because you have proven that you can't make a valid argument, and spending more time with you would just be a waste.

I hope this has been enlightening for those who are more rational, and like to have an honest debate.

In solidarity.

I will spell it out for you because I have doubts about your reasoning. It means that you are supposed to be enrolled, period. The two year back pay is a penalty for not doing what you are supposed to under the law.

Eikaiwa and dispatch companies don't inform you clearly of the legal obligations regarding health insurance, and do what they can to make you sign up with a private scheme instead. I don't think it's right that you should have to cough up back-payments when your initial sponsor didn't inform you clearly about that. You might say that the new teacher should have found out the law themselves before they started working in Japan, but anyone starting out in Japan is most likely going to trust that their company is going to sort it all out for them properly. So the two-year back pay is a penalty for you being understandably ignorant of the fact that the law required you to enrol, due to your misplaced trust in your sponsoring company.

Also, just because the law says you should do something doesn't mean you have to do it, nor does it mean you'll receive any punishment for it. Lots of companies, especially the foreign ones, don't enrol their staff on Shakai Hoken. Breaking the law on this is commonplace, and the authorities turn a blind eye to it. I could name big, reputable companies that do this, and put their staff on a private scheme (proper private schemes, not travel insurance ones like Interglobal). Whether it should be the law or not is another matter. Personally, I enrolled in it because I'd rather follow the law and get decent coverage (although, in certain areas, I'd question the "decency" of the Japanese health service). However, if you choose not to, the way things stand, no action will be taken against you or your company.

ALTs are an absolute waste of money. They come over to Japan expecting a year's vacation. They have no ambition, sense of commitment and are incredibly selfish. They add nothing to the English education in Japan. Quite simply put, they are parasites.

Quite simply put, if they are not needed then they should not be hired. If they are needed, then they should be properly trained and managed. You get what you pay for.

"If you don't want to follow the law, go back home and break laws there. Don't blame the union because your hiding place got destroyed."

If the Japanese gov't has chosen not to enforce the law who are you to tell them to do so? Like Chuck Norris only GU knows right? I'm sure if a Japanese Union went to your home country and started telling the gov't to start enforcing its own laws they would be very successful.

Is the GU going to start batting down umbrellas people use while riding their bicycles too while screaming "We're enforcing the law!"?

If you want to be a crusader, maybe it's you who should go home? Or are you just hoping this is going to be your legacy? You want be able to go home and brag to your buddies while sitting around your weekly Dungeons and Dragons game, and say "I was the one who brought law enforcement to the savages of Japan!"

Every time I read something from the General Union I'm reminded of the episode of Southpark where Al Gore is hunting down Manbearpig. A pointless, selfish, smallminded crusade that nobody BUT NOBODY wants, needs or cares about.

For the last time WOULD YOU UNION JOKERS STOP STICKING YOUR NOSES IN WHERE THEY'RE NOT WANTED. Whatever smug sense of self-satisfaction you get from doing this would you PLEASE go find it elsewhere!!

It took a friend of mine nearly a year to get reimbursed for a simple dental claim through them, I can't imagine what a bigger injury would cost you up front, all in hopes that you might be reimbursed someday.

"Erich", methinks you speak some nonsense. I am enrolled in that private insurance co. you mentioned (no need to give them free publicity) and guess what? They have ALWAYS paid ALL of my claims in full. A friend had an accident, needed an operation and was also refunded IN FULL. Stop spouting nonsense to try and justify your nonsensical argument.

The two year back pay is a penalty for not doing what you are supposed to under the law.

No, boy - WE are not the lawbreakers - our companies who originally failed to enroll us in the SH were. And to be honest, I am happy now with private insurance that works well, and that I CHOOSE. It is not forced on me. And Amen to the change in the requirement that we won't need to be enrolled in SH to get visa renewal. Back pay? Pffft! As if they were gonna get that!

PS : Your "Union" has got nothing we want, so go away and dress up in a bunny suit or something to get publicity. You and your aggressive and belligerant attitude would make you the very LAST person anyone would go to if they actually needed help. I wonder why no-one joins your tin-pot "union"?

Aggresive, belligerant? Come on. You're every bit as bad. Most people don't belong to unions anyway, so what the hell is your problem?

He's stated the "free choice" argument in order to provoke a response from Erich and have an argument. Whether they're his real feelings on the matter, I don't think even he knows.

UnionFacts.org woke me up to what really was going on. Seriously, take a look and judge for yourself. I think people are smart enough to form their own opinions, but have differing points of view is important. This site backs up view with facts...A lot of them.

I see there are a lot of union-bashing scabs on this thread. You scumbags would be the first to come crying to us if something goes wrong with your job - yet you want to bash the union for everything it does. Ask yourself this: What have YOU done to improve the overall conditions of fellow teachers in Japan? NOTHING. I can rest with a clear conscience. I look forward to the day when we are able to stop you scabs from working in schools here if you don't hold a ticket - Yes, that means you ALT teachers too.

And another thing - if you are too stingy to join the MANDATORY SH system - like ALL Japanese - then go home. PATHETIC SCUMBAGS.

"Scab teachers
I see there are a lot of union-bashing scabs on this thread. You scumbags would be the first to come crying to us if something goes wrong with your job - yet you want to bash the union for everything it does."

Never met a Union member that enjoyed paying dues, or had an admirable work ethic... and still waiting....!!

I love scabs!!!!!!!!! :-)

The union bashed itself...That is why its membership numbers are dropping like a rock and they are becoming irrelevant. They did it to themselves when they decided to become political and spend union members' dues only on one political party/ ideology...Forgetting not everyone in their union supports the minority view, and that union members' dues should have been spent on UNION MEMBERS and not corrupt union leader fat-cats and their politician buddies.

@9:23 wrote:

You scumbags would be the first to come crying to us if something goes wrong with your job - yet you want to bash the union for everything it does.

Flaming aside, this is a good point. A lot of teachers I know aren't union members but they are the first to turn to a union when they run into trouble. To the union bashers and those uncertain about the value of a union I say this: You're doing it wrong. Unions don't work this way. Like insurance, the dues are a waste of money until you really need the help of a union. But you have to join first if you want any help or protection. Don't wait until your employer screws you to join a union. Be proactive in your thinking and take the time to learn a bit about Japan's labor laws. A little effort on your part will save you a lot of grief.

So why won't unions allow secret member ballots? Why do union thugs get caught slashing members car tires when they disagree with a union stance, along with other forms of intimidation?

The best thing to do is take the pro-union comments and read UnionFacts.org, and the form your own opinion.

All good points. Unions are generally good things. However one thing stands out for me. One of the above posters says something along the lines of "you come crying to us when something goes wrong."
Maybe so.
But the union, like the Eikaiwa, forget that bad news travels far and fast. The union has been effective in so many things, but for me, and a hell of a lot of other teachers, we only remember the negatives of when NOVA went down, and how badly some parts of that we're handled. Bunny suits? Begging for food (sorry, teaching for food), poor advice about apartments. In fact, I can't remember the union doing anything effective until way after the event.
I'm sure they did, don't misunderstand, it's just I can't remember it.
When ELS went down last year, what did the union do? Again, I'm sure they did something, but I can't remember what it was. Same when Lado (remember them?) went.
Sure, someone going to pick apart this post, and say how I'm wrong.
But a union member saying I'm wrong, and me being wrong are 2 totally different things. It's all about perception. The good stuff the union does doesn't get noticed (except by the union). Everyone remembers the bad stuff.

The grand divide seems to be who is in the GU and who is not. Those who have the wherewithall to rise above the Eikaiwa and ALT level and those who don't.

Those that do get the good jobs have all the benefits that go with them. Those that don't are left mired in the sledge of the English industry. Those that don't, and most likely can't rise above their Eikaiwa station are typically poor people, poor teachers, or both. These are the individuals that populate the GU membership and who went crying to the GU when they did not have their contracts renewed.

The GU feels that they are fighting the good fight keeping poor teachers employed, when all it does is make us all look bad. The direct hire positions the GU argues for as if they don't exist, do, and if you want one of them work for it.

Dedicating thought or time to GEOS or the Eikaiwa Scene in Japan is as personally productive as dedicating yourself to counting one by one, by hand, individual rotten seeds, in a grain silo full of 150,000 metric tons of rotten seed

I come from a working class family with a long history of union membership and I would welcome the chance to join a union that truly (and appropriately) represents the diversity of education professionals at all levels of the Japanese private and public education system,. Unfortunately, I don't have this kind of a choice. Comments like this:

I see there are a lot of union-bashing scabs on this thread. You scumbags would be the first to come crying to us if something goes wrong with your job - yet you want to bash the union for everything it does. Ask yourself this: What have YOU done to improve the overall conditions of fellow teachers in Japan? NOTHING. I can rest with a clear conscience. I look forward to the day when we are able to stop you scabs from working in schools here if you don't hold a ticket - Yes, that means you ALT teachers too.

And another thing - if you are too stingy to join the MANDATORY SH system - like ALL Japanese - then go home. PATHETIC SCUMBAGS.

.. are a perfect example of why the union is a laughable, pathetic shadow of what a real union should be. A bunch of whiny losers who never grew out of their student union days.

The problem with Unions like the GU is that the membership is so small, they're always going to be fighting a losing battle. Their aggressive militancy puts off many people who don't share their extreme political views, and the majority of eikaiwa/ALT instructors only spend a year or two in Japan, and naturally don't have much interest in joining a Union.

If you're going to join a Union because of a dispute with your employer, just be aware of what you're getting yourself into, that is, a very left-wing, militant organization that will expect you to join in strikes, picketing and other militant action, and if you don't like that, harass and abuse you until you do.

Nicely put (21:09).

People should also ask themselves why they are fighting to stay at a job where the employer doesn't want them? If you get into a dispute with your employer and you employ the union to help you keep your job, there will be a tremendous amount of acrimony built up between the two parties.

If you do end up keeping your job, it will never be the same, and in all likelihood will be much worse. You'll never feel comfortable or safe in your position as the school will be looking over your shoulder every minute waiting for you to do something wrong; giving them another chance to let you go.

Don't fight for a job where your not wanted or respected.

This is breaking news about something happening with 23 ALTs in Chiba. I am pretty sure it involves Interac as it says something about this city in Chiba entrusting their ALTs to an unnamed haken kaisha based in Tokyo. I think it says the ALTs wanted to continue their contracts but the BoE said their contracts were illegal. Anyway it popped up in the Japanese version of Google News, so I was surprised that something about illegal ALTs was in the main headlines there. I don't know if it's a big deal or what (at least I hope it is, as much as I'd like to see this entire industry be flushed down the toilet). Anyway my Japanese is not up to snuff but I'm curious if anyone has a more concrete interpretation here. Thanks

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20100417k0000m040089000c.html

I do not like GEOS, but I definitely am not impressed by unions at all.

UnionFacts.org for a little reading. Too extreme for me.

Defending places like GEOS, or any Eikaiwa really, is pretty much the same as defending the sale of Whale Meat, scientifically harvested by the Japanese, in Korea and the USA.

When something is blatantly wrong, despite immediate cost to those specifically employed by it, or who have vested interests in it (whether those interests be emotional or financial), then there is only one option left, which is to bite the bullet and close it down.

The Eikaiwa Leopard has been given enough chances to change it’s spots, and thus one can confidently conclude, the “Eikaiwa Leopard cannot change it’s spots”.

If you want to defend GEOS or Eikaiwa, for fluffy personal reasons, like a perceived love of Japan and the Japanese, or an addiction to a perception that you are actually a teacher or some kind of humanitarian helping the needy, just try to remind yourself, it is not much different to defending Big Tobacco, for emotional reasons.

The Chiba Labor Bureau has determined that subcontracted ALTs working with team teachers are illegal and has ordered the BOE to cease using them - exactly what "The ALT Scam" article claimed.

Bottom line is this,

Dispatch companies destroy, lives, occupations, the education system, and the economy here in Japan.

And as long as Japan has poor working conditions for foreign English teachers and continues to discriminate against them then their English education system will never get better. ( currently as of June 2010 Japan has the 2nd lowest English scores in Asia ( 171 ) beating North Korea by one point ( 170 ). This includes countries like Afghanistan which has better scores!

So IMVHO Japan is getting what they deserve, most teachers here are now the ones that their own countries don't even want . ( There are some good teachers but they are in the minority ) Japan has attracted the leaches and bottom dwellers of foreign countries to come teach here and as long as they continue to use dispatch companies like Interact and use short term contracts ( 1-3 contract limits ) then it will only continue and maybe even get worse.

I mean seriously, why the hell would an educated professional worth anything come to Japan to teach and to have a career ? under these poor working conditions? no Insurance? no pension? no benefits? face discrimination? being disrespected and discriminated by Japanese people who graduated from Japaneses universities ( FYI, Japanese universities are a joke and no where near the level of quality you find in a Western Country's University) ? You have a better education than most Japanese teachers ( even if its only a Arts Degree--- by the way I have two Masters in Education degrees) do.

No one in their right mind would go to Japan to teach , if they are qualified or have any kind of experience.

Their is no career or future here and as long as Japan continues these practices, then their English will never get better.

sorry for the poor punctuation, I'm holding my new baby boy while I am typing this LOL.

9:05 Moral of the story: Japan sucks!

lol it really does. anyone who spends any serious time here finds that out really quick

I'm here and I'm in my right mind. Only when you arrive you realize the picture seen from afar doesn't seem the same close-up. Then it's too late to turn tails. Just try to work with the system and call it experience.

To the fellow who wrote ALT you are totally correct. I as a licensed certified professional teacher made a big mistake comig here to Japan to teach English. I have no future here. I would have been better off if I stayed in Taiwan or South Korea, and now my goal is to get the hell out of Japan and move to South Korea. I did make a mistake signing this contract to teach here in Japan, but I learned from it. And my goal is to do all I can to get out of Japan by saving as much money as I can. Because honestly I am being ripped off living and working here.
If I go back to South Korea, I will be better off. I know because I worked there for 3 years for the public school system. They are always hiring overthere because most native English teachers there don`t like Korea anyway. They all want to go to Japan, everybody wants to go to Japan. Why? Most people don`t even know the dark truth about Japan`s English education industry, it is going downhill along with the economy of Japan also going down to the bowels. Why should I bother to live and work in a country that makes me have to pay my own rent and airfare? Why should I have to live in a country where if I want to find a new apartment I will have an 80% rejection for rental housing, because of the Jim Crow practices in rental housing? It makes no sense being here in Japan anymore.
I was trying to apply to teach in South Korea, but the problem is I do not have my Canadian criminal record check because when I came to Japan, my dispatch employer did not require one from me, they told me that is no requirement here in Japan. But for going to Korea they need one from me, so I have to order one and that will take a long time.
Now I am spreading the word to everyone on my emails and on Facebook. The message is do not come to Japan. There is no future for a foreigner who will be discriminated against, and ostracised by local Japanese people, and no future for a native English teacher who has no pension.

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