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The Bottom of the Barrel

Time to blow the cobwebs off this blog and talk about James McCrostie's article in the Japan Times two weeks ago on the General Union's scrap with Gaba.

The General Union says it has established a Gaba Branch and is accusing Gaba of lying when it stated in a financial report that there was no union and that labor relations were good. By all accounts in the article, this should be a slam dunk for the union, until you read this part:

The union declined to divulge how many Gaba instructors are members, citing a desire to keep the information from the company. Many members are undeclared, executives said, as they fear their contracts won't be renewed if they admit belonging to the union.

Unions don't work when they are a secret. Gaba can ignore the General Union and say that labor relations are good because they are probably just dealing with a couple of union representatives as opposed to a group of teachers from several schools demanding better working conditions. Frankly, if you are one delayed paycheck or one, "Sorry your contract won't be renewed" away from financial distress, you have bigger problems than unionization.

Instead of ranting about the pros and cons of trying to unionize eikaiwa, McCrostie's article should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of coming to work for Gaba. It's ironic that Gaba, a school that has boosted its fortunes in helping employees at Japanese companies become more global, technically has no employees itself since it maintains that its teachers are all contractors.

But if you were to read Gaba's recruiting website, you would have absolutely no idea what kind of labor nightmare awaits you in Japan. For all you know, you're a professional Gaba employee helping students achieve their goals, right? After all, the website talks about GabaWeb and its world-class methodology, texbooks, and technology, and how their certification is designed to help you reach your full potential. There are even opportunities for growth within the company.

Everything you read on that website makes it sound like you will be a valued employee. That is, until you actually arrive in Japan:

Employing instructors as independent contractors allows Gaba to reduce labor costs.

"There are absolutely no benefits and Japanese labor standards law doesn't apply," says Combs. Instructors receive no paid sick days or vacation, no pay for training, no overtime pay, and there's no limit on the number of unpaid overtime hours that can be worked. The company also avoids enrolling its instructors in unemployment insurance, the national health insurance and pension schemes, and workers' compensation. It also fails to pay a commuting allowance to instructors.

The instructors, working on six-month contracts, also lack job security. Employment as independent contractors means Gaba can dismiss any teacher, with or without cause, simply by not renewing their contract.

According to figures from the company posted on the G.U. website, pay for Gaba instructors ranges from ¥1,500 to ¥2,200 per 40-minute lesson depending on the instructor's status level and the time of the lesson. Most instructors fall into the bottom of the pay scale, with 502 out of 854 instructors receiving the minimum ¥1,500. Only 16 instructors earn ¥2,200 and Gaba caps the number of instructors that can be promoted to the higher pay brackets, the union says.

Promotions to a higher pay scale tend to be ephemeral, argues Ringin. "Basically, a pay raise is not a pay raise at Gaba; it's a temporary privilege, which they can take away more or less when they feel like it."

An instructor review committee evaluates each instructor monthly, Ringin explains. Receiving too many less-than-perfect scores on student evaluations, being late submitting your available hours, or calling in sick can be grounds for demotion to a lower pay scale, he says.

Incredibly, the article goes on to briefly describe a couple of teachers who, despite the above, actually like working there. I suppose it is good as long as you are oblivious to what's going on and don't care about yourself. Poor souls. Make no mistake, Gaba is the bottom of the barrel.

Comments

We have been recruiting these people slowly, over time. A strike day will be called soon. Gaba will not know when. It will just happen. Then we will show our true power. Gaba employees unite. We can bring management to the table with us. Stand together as one.

I am not so sure whether the numbers of disclosed or undeclared members is relevant. Obviously, the union needs support if it's going to be taken more credibly by other groups in Japan, especially the government.

The recurring problem is that they can't organize transients. Plus, as you say Shawn, when you are a paycheck or two away from a bad financial problem, keeping the job is more significant than promoting the right of free association or the brotherhood of labor.

The consistent problem with these bad Eikaiwa outfits is that home governments, through the embassies, have not made more of an issue of the problem. When Japanese nationals go to the Anglosphere countries, they are accorded the same rights as everyone else. When the reverse happens, a whole set of hodge-podge schemes are set up to deny foreign nationals the same protections as what the Japanese have written into law here.

Little protest movements, which is what some of the union organizing has amounted to, do very little. The matter has to be taken to places where people with sufficient power can ask the Japanese government the right questions.

For certain, Japanese will still want to be permitted to live and work in countries such as America, Canada and Australia. And honestly, we just don't operate the same way by cutting off people who seek to emigrate to our lands. But, again, if enough people mention it enough times back home--say, to America---maybe the H1B visas or the lottery visas get cut back a few thousand.

We're obviously not going to cheat Japanese out of social security or unemployment by setting up, say, the Japanese restuarant occupation to be one where social insurances are effectively voluntary. But arguably, we don't have to have the same number of lottery Green Cards as we have had. I don't know how Canada works.

This is the kind of thing people should be talking about in response to what the Japanese allow here. If any American has been following the news back home", people are very upset about "jobs being shipped overseas". I think that upset would only be compounded when Americans begin to realize that Americans who go overseas to work in these same countries are not afforded the minimum labor protections.

I think the same article also revealed that the amount GABA spends on advertising is significantly higher than it spends on all salaries, teachers and staff.

Not unique to GABA, but pathetic when they're charging 8000 per lesson and only giving the teacher 1500 without even paid transport? And even with this abuse-level pay, they're still in the red. Why? Because at least 2100 yen of that 8000 is going to ridiculously overpriced Japanese advertising space which everyone ignores. Which is the ONLY "business strategy" in eikaiwa. MORE ADS!!!

There are only 2 rational reasons to work for GABA.
1. Steal students for privates.
2. Chicks who are too rich for you to wine and dine with your 1500yen wage, but are going slumming for gaijin tail.

Yes, the article does compare advertising versus the cost of salaries. I'm not sure what this says about Gaba other than it suggests they don't pay very well. As you say, hen they spend so much on advertising and they are still in the red, they aren't getting much bang for their buck.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

The poignant part of the article for me was at the very end:

"If Gaba gets away with using the itaku system, Berlitz and the other chains would be crazy not to follow."

This is what it really comes down to and I think it represent possibly the lowest level that employment in language education in Japan can mark. It is, in my mind, potentially dangerous in the most real sense. It shifts so much of the burden to the foreign teacher but grants them little means with which to provide for themselves and the least amount of legal protection to seek for redress.

@ Bob "Another Union Victory!" Victory is a relative term and I'm not sure the Union has the track record that affords you the use of the words "Another" or "Victory."

The only goal I can see the Union wants to achieve is to keep unqualified teachers in teaching positions. Where is the Union's concern about the level of education people receive in this country. I've never heard anything from the Union about raising the any of their members' teaching qualifications; just a continual condemnation of these bad companies.

I agree with Shawn that Gaba is bottom of the barrel, but I don't see how forcing a company to pay things like unemployment and health insurance is going to improve anything. They will either lower wages to pay for the extra cost, or simply close their doors. Either way your Union members, along with everyone else who works there, gets the short end.

Perhaps if you are working for 1500 yen an hour the last thing you need is another expense to pay (public health care fees). Perhaps your Gaba members should concentrate on getting a better job rather than windging about not getting health care. A better job will provide those things. Bad companies will die when they can't find people to work for them.

Why isn't the Union advising it's members to get better qualifications and get themselves a better job, instead of fighting for things they can't afford to pay for anyway?

What do you think will happen if you go on strike? Your members will most likely be in violation of their contracts and fired. Great plan. Way to stick it to Gaba. Another short sighted endeavor from the General Union; getting people fired who aren't smart enough to get a better job. Make sure you tell all your members to wear their bunny suits at the unemployment office.

Stop with the silly shenanigans (a stike) and start requiring better qualifications for you members, then they won't have to work for these bad companies.

The person making those posts about unionization is not the famed Bob Tench of Nova. It's someone mocking Mr. Tench. Notice the URL if you click on the name.

Slander is very sophisticated on the internet, and there are many ways to carry it out. (Smears in URLs, phony "blog review" sites that are really meant to carry actionable defamation and libel through false "real names", Google search terms meant to carry an insult inside of the search term, etc.) As a relatively early blogger, I have seen this in several different forms. Someone doesn't like what you do using the internet (or reported via the internet!), they don't let you know directly. They do it the sneaky way.

Coupled with the fact there's no privacy anymore---that's really been a trend since commercial databases in the 1970's.

Pointing a certain incident out merely spreads the slander, which is why I hesitate even to point this out. But that is likely not the Bob Tench.

Perhaps if you are working for 1500 yen an hour the last thing you need is another expense to pay (public health care fees). Perhaps your Gaba members should concentrate on getting a better job rather than windging about not getting health care. A better job will provide those things. Bad companies will die when they can't find people to work for them.

I agree. GABA has been a scam for a long time. The best way to deal with these types of organizations is to not work for them.

Honestly, if you find yourself working at GABA then you should really question your priorities in life. There's nothing to be gained working for such a rip-off organization.

In the middle of an economic downturn, when the trend is to slash jobs, in a country with a huge problem with contract labor - you have literally millions of workers on temporary contracts in situations similar to Gaba - just advising people to get better qualifications and "move on," isn't necessarily great advice or even possible. You're already competing with college grads who can't land a job.

Its globalization. You can't just move on, move on, move on. Eventually, there will be nothing to move on to.

Your right to strike is protected under Trade Union Law. You cannot be terminated for striking. Although sometimes an effective technique, nowhere on the union website are they calling for an immediate strike. I question whomever made the "Bob Trench" post.

The best way to deal with these types of organizations is not to "not work for them," it is to fight their unethical and semi-legal methods. If you are worried about this type of thing spreading to other industries (perhaps where you work?) why would you advise Gaba workers not to organize? Why would you advise any worker not to organize?

A couple of points of interest since the article was published. 1) A few days ago the Central Labor Commission in Tokyo ruled that yes, GABA instructors were employees and not independent contractors. I believe GABA has one more appeal they can use before their business model that takes advantage of super-cheap labor costs implodes.

2) GABA level conditions do seem to be spreading. I've been told that anyone hired at Berlitz after May 2010 has been put on a contract that will be renewed (or not) on an annual basis. Berlitz didn't announce the fact until Oct. 2010.

3) I've also heard and would very much like someone to confirm or deny that the new hires at NOVA-redux are being put on gyomu itaku independent contractor type contracts.

@hoofin The fact is gyomu itaku contracts are spreading like weeds throughout Japan's employment system. Eikaiwas are not necessarily discriminating against foreigners; instead they are cutting wage costs as low as they can just like many other industries are doing. For ex. In Japan, 70% of workers over the age of 65 and 45% of workers aged 55-64 are on irregular contracts. Until the rules were changed in 1999 it was about 50% for workers over 65 and 30% for those aged 55-64. And 54% of all woman workers are now on non-regular contracts up from about 40% in the mid 90's.

they are probably just dealing with a couple of union representatives as opposed to a group of teachers from several schools demanding better working conditions.

the article goes on to briefly describe a couple of teachers who, despite the above, actually like working there

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but it seems like the article quotes the same people. The union representatives quoted in the article are also the same teachers quoted as working there. That would seem to imply

a group of teachers from several schools demanding better working conditions

Which might also be the reason Gaba's

business model that takes advantage of super-cheap labor costs implodes

Hello everyone,
My name is Adrian Ringin. I'm the treasurer of the Gaba branch of the General Union, and I was quoted in the Japan Times article that sparked this post.

Firstly, about the number of union members. At this point in the process the union doesn't wish to reveal our numbers to the company, and printing the number in the paper would be revealing this information. In addition, many members are undeclared, and it is not my place to reveal any information about union members without their consent.

In any case, the number of union members is besides the point when it comes to the story being told in the Japan Times article. There was a 2008-2009 case in the Osaka Labor Commission brought by the union, where instructors were recognized as employees under trade union law. This was appealed by Gaba to the Central Labor Commission in Tokyo. Their appeal was rejected last week. We are currently waiting to hear if Gaba will decide to sue the Central Labor Commission. They have 30 days to decide. Given these facts, there is most definitely a union presence at the company and some labor issues. Gaba had an obligation to disclose this in its report to the stock exchange. It did not do this.

It is true that the working conditions at Gaba are very far from ideal. But the flexibility that Gaba offers is very good, and this is the main reason that most instructors work there, the ability to set their schedule around their lifestyle. It is part of the reason I work there too. Another part of the reason I still work there is because there are a lot of good people at Gaba, and I enjoy working with them. I have helped many students to improve their English, and I think that Gaba's computerized lesson record system that students can check at any time is great.

Another reason I work there is to help cause change. Gaba is a very important company, because if the use of itaku contracts there is allowed to stand, it will spread, and the already-declining conditions across the labor market, noted above by James McCrostie, will get worse. I think that if everyone just "moved on", assuming that were even possible, it means that things would never improve. And that isn't good enough. I believe that everyone deserves to have decent working conditions. And I think those are worth fighting for, wherever we are.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to reply here, or email me at gaba@generalunion.org

Best regards,

Adrian Ringin

Shawn:

Disappointed.

The usual rigor you apply to articles and media postings is completely lacking here. Perhaps you should read the article more carefully and with a little more skepticism. There are so many glaring mistakes that anyone with access to the internet, Japanese language skills, the TSE homepage, yahoo finance, and more than a newbies understanding of business should pick up on...

The piece is a total single sourced hack job. Does not mean that bits that are not true. Does not mean that the union "kids" aren't well-intentioned (Kind of like PETA?). The writer sure seems qualified to write about teaching - being some kind of "professor" at Japanese University - but he does not seem to have any real business or journalistic chops. Go take look at how the Union is the source for the article and then how they reference the article on their website to lend legitimacy to their bold postings there. Talk about a circle jerk. They clearly have a stake in "bigging up" and legitimizing their claims, proclamations and exhortations. But it is definitely spin spin spin.

I wish the Japan Times had actually run a real article. Or that they had the sense to bring in a better writer who could actually research what was going on with more accuracy, and more sources than the GU.

The industry is definitely at some sort of crossroads, so it would be nice for what pitiful few forums there were for commentary (the Japan Times? Here?) upped their game as well. The GU, as well intentioned as they may be, does not strike me as having much to do with the future...

Anyway my two bits. Like the site. Like your work.

Mr Mildly Disappointed

The union is the source for the article. I think the article is pretty up front about that, which is revealed in the headline: "Gaba teachers challenge 'contractor' status- Union fears employment model could mark first step on slippery slope for eikawa firms." And then goes on to interview Gaba teachers challenging their contractor status and the Union who fears the model might mark the first step on a slippery slope for eikaiwa. So referencing the union website and quoting these teachers seems logical to me.

However it also seems the author also took pains to find other sources to lend it objectivity:

-Christopher Gunson, an international transaction attorney
-Gaba Corp.'s 2009 financial report
-The Osaka labor commission
-Timothy Langley, president of Langley Enterprise K.K
-Journalist Naoki Kazama
-Japan's Statistics Bureau's annual Labor Force Survey
-Perhaps most tellingly, he contacted the company for their perspective and they declined to comment: A Gaba industrial relations department employee said the company declined to comment on the labor commission case or any other questions before the commission announces its ruling. The ruling, I might add, was given last Thursday, in favor of the union. So it seems these union "kids" are making some progress

In any case, I've yet to see a truly objective piece of journalism. It's always a spin from some or other standpoint. I don't think you could say the article isn't factual.

Adrian, obviously, your idea of flexibilty and mine differ greater. I joined GABA just before NOVA collapsed, did my three days unpaid training, and was told I'd be working at the Fujisawa Branch, despite it not being suitable for me at all. Oh, very flexible. GABA Fujisawa wasn't open in the mornings, meaning working weekends was a must. How wonderfully flexible is that? Next, I took a strong dislike to MOST of the people I worked with, finding them in the main to be disingenuous bullshit artists, yes men and (which I found quite amusing) total suckers. I have never disliked so many coworkers, and hope I never do again. I left after just a few weeks and am a partner in a school in Yokohama now. As much as I'd like GABA to fail, I know it does provide employment for Non Native speakers, who don't have many options. And it does keep all the suckers in one place, so I do have mixed feelings. No, Fuck It, I hope GABA continues, I just don't want any part of it for myself. Cheers.

"At this point in the process the union doesn't wish to reveal our numbers to the company, and printing the number in the paper would be revealing this information."

Sorry Adrian, you seem sincere and I wish you all the best in your case against Gaba, and agree with everything else in your post, but the above quote is disingenuous and hypocritical. The General Union has never revealed the number of members that they have in their 20 year history, and the reason is obvious to everyone - it is a tiny percentage of the number of teachers working in the schools that they represent, which is a cause of constant embarassment no doubt to the GU. Unfortunately, the GU will never admit this, so they are constantly making up ridiculous nonsense about how they are "not ready" to reveal how many members they have, and insinuating that terrible things will happen if anyone finds out how many members they have, which is absurd. This only serves to make the GU look ridiculous when they start criticizing companies for being economical with the truth, and then in the same breath refuse to disclose the most basic information about themselves. No other union in the civilised world has the slightest hesitation about announcing their membership details, yet for reasons known only to themselves the GU seems to believe that they are operating in the equivalent of Stalinist Russia. Anyway, rant over, keep fighting the good fight.

The best way to deal with these types of organizations is not to "not work for them," it is to fight their unethical and semi-legal methods. If you are worried about this type of thing spreading to other industries (perhaps where you work?) why would you advise Gaba workers not to organize? Why would you advise any worker not to organize?

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I wouldn't contemplate working for an organization with such low pay and atrocious working conditions. I also choose not to join the army and fight in Iraq. Nobody is forcing people to work there. I really wonder why people would bother working for them in the first place. I didn't advise them "not to organize"- I suggested that they should find a better place of employment.

Why would you advise someone to work at an "unethical" organization with "semi-legal methods"? In life, you have to choose your battles and sometimes it's better to move on than try and fight a crappy organization like Gaba. It wouldn't surprise me that the place goes bankrupt in a couple of years because their business model seems to follow Nova and Geos.

Gaba instructors certainly have the right to organize and I wish them luck. I would advise their employees to find a better place to work or upgrade their qualifications. It's a much better choice than grinding away at a place with no future that treats its employees like dirt. Personally, I'm not worried about such conditions spreading because I run my own business. In life, you have choices.

It's an interesting exercise in psychology. In an exploitative labor situation, some people seek to improve their condition by escaping, others seek to improve it by fighting. The former only works if there is something viable to escape to, the latter only works if you can win. In this situation I'd say they have a fair chance of improving their situation by fighting, considering the progress they have made so far.

I also think the worse the job conditions are, the more semi-legal and unethical a corporation is, the easier they are to fight - they don't have a legal leg to stand on in their defense. Thus the courtroom losses Gaba has experienced so far.

I would never advise someone to work at unethical organization with semi-legal methods. In fact I go out of my way to educate people about Gaba beforethey choose to work for the company. But once they are working there, I would strongly advise them to organize and improve their lot.

There's a third type of person. The one who grinds away at a place with no future who treats them like dirt and neither moves on nor fights. That's a bigger problem.

The eikaiwa-monster business model can only exist by treating their workers like dirt. If more people had fought for better working conditions since its inception it wouldn't have turned into a monster.
But you are right, it is all a matter of opinion.

By the way, I did choose to join the military. In many ways it was a much better gig than eikaiwa. Job security, regular promotions, salary based on dependents, free medical, citizenship if needed, free education. That's something that people shouldn't have to join the military for. Everyone should be entitled to that.

I would never advise someone to work at unethical organization with semi-legal methods. In fact I go out of my way to educate people about Gaba beforethey choose to work for the company. But once they are working there, I would strongly advise them to organize and improve their lot.

i agree with you.

By the way, I did choose to join the military. In many ways it was a much better gig than eikaiwa. Job security, regular promotions, salary based on dependents, free medical, citizenship if needed, free education. That's something that people shouldn't have to join the military for. Everyone should be entitled to that.

I also agree with you here. All I'm pointing out is that I don't think that Gaba is a wise career choice in the first place. The company has demonstrated contempt for their employees and have fought every attempt to improve working conditions. If people feel the need to continue working for such a place, then I wish them luck. Believe me, there are better options and choices out there.

What do you think will happen if you go on strike? Your members will most likely be in violation of their contracts and fired

Make no mistake, Gaba is the bottom of the barrel

So what do Gaba instructors have to lose then? Nothing. And what do they stand to gain? Everything. So why not? And why not have some fun while they're at it?

*have no idea who Mr. Gunson, Mr. Langley, and Kazama-san are, nice folks I am sure.
*it is 2010, not 2009 (all publicly listed companies release quarter results, so unless my math is off there should be 3 quarters worth of data for this year already)
*it does not seem the writer actually spoke with the Osaka Labour Relations commission, but rather the union about the decision - again which the Union needs to spin up for obvious reasons (trying to convince people they have momentum - which, hey, maybe they do)
*I don't think that Gaba actually has a "industrial relations department" cant find any mention of it on their site - could not be bothered to dig deeper, but I doubt such a department exists
*the marketing vs. staff and instructor cost bit (the union plays this one up on their page as well) is so laughably off and non-factual, you don't even need to look up data to fact check it, just use a calculator and some common sense. although I am sure everyone wants to believe silliness like that because if reinforces the big dumb eikawa boss meme that everyone loves so much - but do do the math

anyhoo all very interesting. A huge flabby, pro-union, largely (i will add the qualifier) single sourced article that cant have been fact checked too closely. But hey it gets people talking

@22:31 "what do you think..."

If you feel the need to waste your energy fighting to work at a company that doesn't care about the working conditions of their staff, you deserve to work there.

How about improving your qualifications and getting a better job?

Have fun fighting the "good fight!"

"have no idea who" "unless my math is off" "it does not seem" "I don't think that" "could not be bothered to dig deeper, but I doubt" "you don't even need to look up data to fact check it"

If you are going to accuse the article of being non-factual, at least provide some concrete proof of where it isn't, rather than speculation. I've read the complaint to the SESC and the shareholder statement. The complaint was made prior to the article being released, and quarterly results are released post-quarter. If the writer didn't speak to the Osaka labor commission, he probably obtained his information from the transcripts of the trial, which is public record. Gaba is a publicly listed company, so the "marketing vs. instructor and staff bit" is available. If you want to use something besides a calculator and common sense, you might try:
http://ir.gaba.co.jp
http://www.tse.or.jp/tseHPFront/HPLCDS0101E.do
If you want to take a look on the train, November 1st marked the start of a new campaign cycle for Gaba train ads.
Don't know what Gaba calls its "industrial relations department," but I assume its the legal team that represents them in labor commission hearings, headed by a Mr. Asanuma, the same team that has negotiated with the union in the past, and that conducts "industrial relations."

This topic seems to be causing a lot of debate, which is good, I'm glad people are interested enough to talk about it. I'm not sure I can hit every point, but I will comment on as many as I can

Mr Mildly Disappointed:
You say you wish that the Japan Times had run a "real" article. I agree that it would be great to have more in-depth coverage of the situation at Gaba from a variety of journalists. So far, James McCrostie has been the first writer to take a real interest in the situation at the company. But I don't think he'll be the last, so I'm sure as time goes by the situation will get more coverage from more different sources.

JB:
I'm sorry that your experience at Gaba wasn't so great, and I am glad to hear that you are now happy running your own business. As for the flexibility issue, it is far from perfect. Gaba sends instructors to whichever Learning Studio requires new people at the time they join, which may or may not be convenient for that instructor. Quite a few instructors later change their LS to one more convenient for them. As you say, some studios have limited operating hours, so that limits things too. But that said, there is still a large amount of flexibility in choosing when we work.

Anonymous # 1:
I'm sorry that you feel me not disclosing union numbers is disingenuous and hypocritical, but I've stated my reasons already. As for whether instructors should leave and seek greener pastures elsewhere, that is up to everyone to decide for themselves. If people wish to start their own business like yourself, upgrade their qualifications and get a teaching job with better conditions, or move to another type of work entirely that is fine, and many people have done that.

Anonymous # 2:
What you said about the three types of people (those who leave, those who fight, and those who just sit there and take it) was interesting. It reminded me of the economist Albert O. Hirshman's "Exit, Voice, and Loyalty", which talks about the three responses people can have to organizational decline. I guess I'd have to say I am a "Voice" type person.

Ralph:
For the reasons I stated in my previous post, I think this is one worth fighting. I believe that all workers deserve to be given what we are entitled to under the law, and I think that if that isn't happening, then it is worth stepping up and fighting for it. What is happening at Gaba is just the most extreme example of what seems to be happening in the economy generally, jobs that have increasingly poor conditions, few benefits and little job security. And because of that, I think it is worth fighting for reasons bigger than the individual situation at one company. The General Union does as well, which is why it has put three years into fighting this campaign.

James said:

The fact is gyomu itaku contracts are spreading like weeds throughout Japan's employment system. Eikaiwas are not necessarily discriminating against foreigners; instead they are cutting wage costs as low as they can just like many other industries are doing.

My point was going to how the creativity in employment statuses is particularly stark when it comes to non-Japanese. Yes, you're right, many Japanese are in "non regular" employment. But it seems to be the status of choice for companies that employ non-Japanese.

As I mentioned elsewhere in the Japan expat comment world, I think state departments need to start taking a look at the "FCN" (Friendship, Commerce and Navigation) treaties they have with Japan, and whether Japan truly honors the commitments that it makes to fairness and equal protection.

Adrian, being told that I must work at Branch 'X', but only in the evenings and on weekends in no way comes close to my definition of flexibilty. You are not me, so your stupid definition of 'flexibilty' is meaningless, and besides, I think you are a sucker - perfect GABA fodder. I got a one way deal, which was all about what suited GABA. It is, by my definition a shit company, which shits gleefully and with contempt, on it's "contractors" from a great height, in many ingenious ways, which they are continually racking their brains to expand. I am utterly delighted therefore, to hear that you enjoy working there.

Adrian, being told that I must work at Branch 'X', but only in the evenings and on weekends in no way comes close to my definition of flexibilty. You are not me, so your stupid definition of 'flexibilty' is meaningless, and besides, I think you are a sucker - perfect GABA fodder. I got a one way deal, which was all about what suited GABA. It is, by my definition a shit company, which shits gleefully and with contempt, on it's "contractors" from a great height, in many ingenious ways, which they are continually racking their brains to expand. I am utterly delighted therefore, to hear that you enjoy working there.

I agree that Gaba's "flexibility" is for the most part a scam. They would probably need to implement some sort of system that allows flexibility for part timers and less flexibility for full-timers. Found this on the union website:

"Many instructors chose to work at GABA because the flexibility fits their lifestyle; other jobs, family commitments, visa restrictions, and so on.

Understandably, people in this situation do not want to lose the flexibility they joined GABA for, and are concerned that they might be made into full-time employees against their will.

GABA would need to implement a variety of employment styles that included full-time and part-time instructors. ECC, NOVA, Berlitz and others hire both full-time and part-time employees. Both full-timers and part-timers at these companies get benefits currently denied by the GABA to its sub-contractors.

Obviously, depending on Gaba management policy, full-time employees would have less flexibility changing schedules but this is not necessarily the case for part-timers. Berlitz already uses a pay per lesson system somewhat similar to GABA’s. While it is not without drawbacks such as the lack of a guaranteed income, it does provide all the associated benefits of employment. Many of these Berlitz teachers are enrolled on unemployment insurance, health and pension insurance, and get paid holidays and a travel allowance."

I don't think labeling Adrian "perfect Gaba fodder" is quite fair. I'm sur he's cost the company significant amounts of time and money battling the union. They'd probably love to be rid of him, if they could.

"I don't think labeling Adrian "perfect Gaba fodder" is quite fair”

I was actually pulling my punches there, so, as with mine and Adrian's definition of 'flexibility', your definitions of 'sucker' and 'fair' and my definitions differ to such a monumental degree, that it's probably not worth debating. Have a good day anyway.

"I'm sorry that you feel me not disclosing union numbers is disingenuous and hypocritical, but I've stated my reasons already. As for whether instructors should leave and seek greener pastures elsewhere, that is up to everyone to decide for themselves. If people wish to start their own business like yourself, upgrade their qualifications and get a teaching job with better conditions, or move to another type of work entirely that is fine, and many people have done that."

You've somewhat missed my point, Adrian. What you have stated is not 'your reasons' but rather the reasons that GU HQ in Osaka have instructed you to state, and in either case they do not make a lick of sense. Just admit how many members you have, it makes no difference if it is a big number or a small number, and beating around the bush over this most basic information only serves to make the GU look a little sinister and rather pathetic.

Hiya - I have been in Japan for over ten years, working at GEOS, Nova, and GABA, and in all that time I have met ONE guy who told me he was a union member. And I don't think it put him in any different a position, on way or the other, from the 99.9 percent of people I met who weren't Union members. It's not like the Union is driving through impressive pay awards or Health and safety advances on a regular basis is it? It's like they find out which direction things are heading, and then walk in front, pretending that it is their victory. Like the wino at the head of the easter parade. Pathetic really.

What a load of baloney Govan. I worked for ECC for two years. All people at my school were Union members. I worked at Nova for 1 year. All teachers at my branch were Union members. I worked for GEOS for 1 year. All teachers at my branch excluding one were Union Members. I now work for myself, and I still pay my union dues. In all my time in Japan, I have met, let me think, probably about 2 or 3 people, who are not Union members.

If you can't post the truth, then spare us, and don't post at all.

well ok here it goes. here is the link to the union page.

http://gaba.generalunion.org/news/779

the information here was supplied to the JT article by the union? and the union then references what they supplied as being printed in the gosh darn Japan Times (although the image they use is of the New York Times, very classy) anyways... here comes the math

just for fun

637,000,000 yen is all that Gaba spent on staff and instructors in 2009 (according to the wiz kids at the GU and the writer).

total staff = 434 and total instructors = 850 for a grand total of 1,284 oppressed workers/contractors (again according the wonderkids)

637,000,000 yen broken down into a monthly average is: 53,083,333 yen per month

Divide this by the 1,284 oppressed worker/contractors and you get a monthly average salary of: 41, 342 yen per month per person.

Sweet Jesus!

Either something is dreadfully wrong with the numbers reported by those "darn meddling" kids or Gaba is the most super awesome evil eikaiwa ever. bar none.

that or the whole operation is actually based in Mogadishu and they are all stinking rich.

You just called me a liar and I take great exception to that. I stand by my previous comments. I have met ONE union member at work, during my entire time in Japan. Which NOVA branch was it, BTW which was teeming with Union members, as you claim?

Dear Mildly Disappointed,

Actually, the information on salaries and advertising budgets came from GABA, not from the union. I'm sure GABA appreciates your concern, but no one from the company has made any complaint to the Japan Times that my article used inaccurate figures. I might be willing to provide you with more information if you weren't so insulting.

I take great offense at your accusation that I fabricated the existence of GABA's industrial relations department and thus of making up the company's no comment quote. I spoke to a very polite woman from the department on the telephone for a little more than half an hour. She answered several questions but asked that none of our conversation be attributed to her in the article and that I write simply GABA had no comment while the Labor Board hearing case remained unresolved. My editor saw no need to use the woman's name in the article.

Anyone who thinks they know enough about journalism to criticize someone else's journalistic chops should realize the seriousness of the accusation you made. Therefore, I hope you understand when I decline to any further discussion with an anonymous internet poster.

Yours &c.,

James McCrostie

You just called me a liar and I take great exception to that. I stand by my previous comments. I have met ONE union member at work, during my entire time in Japan. Which NOVA branch was it, BTW which was teeming with Union members, as you claim?

That was also my experience. I worked at Nova and I didn't meet ONE person who was a member of a union. Most of the people there were fairly transient and were only in Japan for a year or so. As such, I guess they didn't feel the need to join a union.

I'm not saying that there weren't union members at Nova or other eikaiwas but it was the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of workers were not union members. Just stating the facts ...

MD,

It sounds like you are more disappointed with the fact I didn't go where you hoped I would with the post. My intention was not to pick apart the article, mainly because I don't consider it a hack job.

My point was that when it comes to unionization, it's damned if you do damned if you don't. You could try and unionize but at the risk of losing your job, or you do nothing and suffer under the poor working conditions. Standing up for your labor rights and quitting and trying to find something better are both valid responses to a bad company. I wonder when the all of the secrecy with the union and its members will end. That's a heck of a way to fight for your rights, but it's not something new. When I worked for GEOS many, many moons ago, they tried to form a union but it all hush hush and never got off the ground.

Finally, way to go, shithead. You had the author of the Japan Times article here giving us extra information and you had to piss him off.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Finally, way to go, shithead. You had the author of the Japan Times article here giving us extra information and you had to piss him off.

Shawn, I don't want to get involved in other people's fights but I'm disappointed that you had to resort to a slur. I mean, this site is often overrun with people who are more interested in name-calling than discussing the issues in earnest. I don't think it helps when the creator of this site does the same.

You made some good points but you didn't need to call the guy a "Shithead". The writer of the original article clarified his sources and blew"MD's" nonsesne out of the water. He didn't have to rely on abuse. You should take a leaf out of his book.

hey shawn I don't mind. you can call me a shit head or douche bag or whatever. really, it is a compliment at best or not important at the least.

what I am "mildly disappointed" with is that fact that so many people have swallowed the blue pill that they don't even apply rudimentary skepticism to the classic old memes about eikaiwas... (marketing costs exceed instructor costs blah blah)

the mistakes with those numbers are just the most glaring example. the writer had to have misread whatever data he was referencing (giving him the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to just assuming full on partisan spin/lies). but because everyone wants to/is preconditioned to believe this kind of thing, they don't think critically about what they are saying/writing/reading. the math just makes no sense.

the union has a full on agenda to spin things in their favor. fine. but they are amateurs at best. (I hope that Mr. Ringin who has posted here and is listed as the "treasurer" for the gaba branch, for the sake of his members, has better math chops). the market has moved on and the issues they are pushing are as old as the memes they keep trying to promote.

It is good that the author felt compelled to come here and defend himself. He chose to take a public stand. He should be comfortable with reaction. Postive or negative. He should double check his numbers. And maybe rather than questioning his "journalistic chops", I should question his math/critical thinking chops.

Anyhoo, its late on Friday/Early on Saturday and as I said I am basically a fan.

Mr. Mildly Disappointed "Shithead"

"Shawn, I don't want to get involved in other people's fights but I'm disappointed that you had to resort to a slur. I mean, this site is often overrun with people who are more interested in name-calling than discussing the issues in earnest. I don't think it helps when the creator of this site does the same."

Seconded. Shawn comes across as being so impressed that a newspaper writer (for the Japan Times, for chrissake, so not even a real journalist) would stoop to visiting his site that total fury ensues when someone criticizes said writer. Not cool at all, and very disappointing, since I agree with most everything in Shawn's original post.

You could try and unionize but at the risk of losing your job

This is a misconception many people have I think. Contracts are not valid which are made outside the law. In other words, no matter what you sign, if the contract doesn't conform with labor law, trade union law, etc. or if your employer terminates you for trade union activities, it is illegal. Contracts really aren't worth the paper they are written on. They employer can put whatever they want on it, you can sign it, but when push comes to shove your rights will be upheld regardless of what you signed.

The law that pertains to unions is "Trade Union Law": http://www.tabunka.org/special/trade.html

Article 7 protects you from retaliation by company:

"Article 7. The employer shall not commit the acts set forth in the following items:

(1) to discharge or otherwise treat in a disadvantageous manner a worker by reason of such worker's being a member of a trade union, having tried to join or organize a trade union, or having performed proper acts of a trade union; or to make it a condition of employment that the worker must not join or must withdraw from a trade union. However, where a trade union represents a majority of workers employed at a particular plant or workplace, this shall not prevent an employer from concluding a collective agreement which requires, as a condition of employment, that the workers must be members of such trade union;

(2) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representative of the workers employed by the employer without proper reasons;

(3) to control or interfere with the formation or management of a trade union by workers or to give financial support in defraying the trade union's operational expenditures, provided, however, that this shall not prevent the employer from permitting workers to confer or negotiate with the employer during working hours without loss of time or pay and this shall not apply to the employer's contributions for public welfare funds or welfare and other funds which are actually used for payments to prevent or relieve economic misfortunes or accidents, nor to the furnishing of minimum office space;

(4) to discharge or otherwise treat in a disadvantageous manner a worker for such worker's having filed a complaint with the Labour Relations Commission that the employer has violated the provisions of this Article; for such worker's having requested the Central Labour Relations Commission to review an order issued under the provisions of Article 27, paragraph 4; or for such worker's having presented evidence or having spoken at an investigation or hearing conducted by the Labour Relations Commission in regard to such a complaint or request or at an adjustment of labour disputes as provided for under the Labour Relations Adjustment Law (Law No. 25 of 1946)."

It's not that I'm impressed that a Japan Times reporter is posting here. I don't blog to gain media attention. The point is that it's a nice thing that a reporter would take the time to respond to his article and allow readers to get some extra information and clarification from the horse's mouth. If you hold the Japan Times in such low esteem, what are you doing here at this blog?

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Then why do you blog? It is obviously not to attract readers (another one of whom you have just lost) or to craft your writing style, so why do it at all?

Have to agree that you should avoid these dodgy places in the first place and either work for people who conduct their business in an honourable way, or else just work for yourself and be your own boss.

I don't think there's an awful lot a Union can do about working conditions at a place like Gaba. When you have a business that is based on a continuous "revolving door" of instructors coming in and out of the company, and so few of them stay long-term, I think you really are fighting a losing battle. The only way to change it IMO is to set up your own school that accommodates long-termers' demands and gives them a regular wage, holidays, transportation, etc etc.

I think the piece Shawn posted from JT about the small eikaiwa school is the best way to go if you're going to stay in Japan long-term.

I don't think there's an awful lot a Union can do about working conditions at a place like Gaba

Based on what? The General Union has won unpaid wages at American Village School, HAL, World Gakuin, International Voice, and ESS. They've gotten companies to sign collective agreements with pay-raises at Nichibei, Zenken, and Chris English Masters. At ECC they've won paid holidays, unemployment insurance, and they are part of the ECC interview process. They have regular, yearly collective bargaining there.
They've gotten guarantees of employment at Institut Franco-Japonais. That's just off the top of my head. There are many more, and all of that was done with a small minority in the workplace. What makes Gaba so special that they are immune to the union? You think the other places didn't have high turnover as well?

Right now they are on strike at FUSO (an air conditioning parts manufacturer). FUSO is refusing to hire any more foreign workers after the union branch declared. So the best way is just not to work for them then? You going to advise Brazilian factory workers to quit work and go back to school, or maybe find another air conditioning parts manufacturer that's better? I'd put my money on the union.

Well I agree with you in that, if you're having problems which can be dealt with legally, like contracts and unpaid wages, then the Union can help you. But IMO the issue goes deeper than that. The problems in these schools basically derive from crap management with a crap attitude. It's ingrained in them. The whole thing is geared towards making as much money as they can for the lowest outlay possible. A Union is going to change that.

Sorry, a Union ISN'T going to change that.

The problems in these schools basically derive from crap management with a crap attitude. It's ingrained in them. The whole thing is geared towards making as much money as they can for the lowest outlay possible. A Union isn't going to change that.

I'd argue that's the business model everywhere. Example; In response to an unfavorable TV appearance, the president of "Attorney" phsyically assaulted union member Peter Gordon. The General Union had him arrested. In my last post I mentioned FUSO - their hiring procedures are now openly racially discriminatory. I mentioned, what, ten companies in my last post? And those were all examples of situations where the union made improvements. You don't think they had crap management with crap attitudes? One thing I can say for Gaba, they haven't physically assaulted nor racially discriminated against their "employees" yet.

The 8-hours law, the 40 hours a week law. Paid vacation, overtime, unemployment insurance. You think this stuff was just some kind of gift from a benevolent government, or that it existed since the beginning of time? It came from people struggling against employers focused on maximizing profit at the lowest possible expense. Shit, there was a time when 8 year old kids worked longer hours than you or I, and there were no labor laws.

The 8-hours law, the 40 hours a week law. Paid vacation, overtime, unemployment insurance. You think this stuff was just some kind of gift from a benevolent government, or that it existed since the beginning of time? It came from people struggling against employers focused on maximizing profit at the lowest possible expense. Shit, there was a time when 8 year old kids worked longer hours than you or I, and there were no labor laws.

Ah the soapbox! I love the people who have come to Japan, work at a shite company, know it's a shite company and still continue to work there ALL BY CHOICE! Then these jokers feel they have been sent to Japan as though by divine intervention to save us plebs and change the big bad system.

These are the same people who don't understand why they have the shite job in the first place. Heaven forbid you might actually improve your qualifications and get a better job.

You don't have to improve your qualifications though do you? Your 2 week TEFL certificate that you got with your haircut is just as good as a Masters degree isn't it? Why would you want to work at a better job when you can stay at this shitty one?

Is it that you are hoping that "fighting this good fight" will prove to you girl that you are worthy of love? Not to worry my sweet prince of low self esteem; you are.

FUSO - their hiring procedures are now openly racially discriminatory.

Please don't take offense, but it's easy to say that, and not as easy to prove it. Yes, Japan has laws that prevent companies from discriminating during hiring practices, but and a company does not necessarily have to justify in the courts why they hired a Japanese person rather than a foreign person... they can just say that the Japanese person seemed better qualified, and the argument is over.

That's not what I said. I said I don't blog for media attention. However, I get quite a few e-mails from people thanking me for the site. LJ has been up for 10 years because people find the information useful.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Wonder if some LJ posters could help me here. I work at Gaba and have thought about joining the union. I read through this thread and a lot of posters recommend bettering their qualifications. That's good advice. Problem is I don't have any. I'm on a spousal visa. To get to the heart of the matter:

-I never graduated from high school/nor university
-I'm on a spousal visa (I didn't come here to "explore Japan")
-As one poster mentioned I have the two-week TEFL qual and the haircut to go with it
-I much prefer the service industry, but actually minimum wage at a convenience store/
restaraunt means 8 hours of work for the same salary as 4 hours work at Gaba (albeit
without any benefits)
-I have two kids, in between raising them and working at Gaba I have neither time
nor money to go about "bettering my quals."
-I used to think Japanese language skills were the key, but after passing JLPT2 and
noticing most instructors at my branch are either Japanese or have better language skills
than me I've reconsidered. And franky, I have nothing to offer to a Japanese company
either than language. I'm alien to the business world and have very few computer skills
(There used to be a time when I didn't know what a verb was - I had to study English the
same time I learned Japanese just to keep afloat. Now I'm quite familiar with useless
information such as relative vs. reflexive pronouns).

Again with the crossroads crap. Thats overused time and time again with Japan. Enough with the crossroads! Maybe there will be no turning point? Did anyone think of that? It'll just keep getting worse.

Now the ekiawa industry is at the crossroads and suddenly there is going to be a BIG change. I doubt it. For the same reasons that Japan at the crossroads in the 80s didn't explain the 30 years of economic stagnation that followed. Its a western analysis of Japan and how business operates there to think there will be a turning point that forces things to turn around.

Don't believe it. The whole English language industry is going to get worse and the union isn't powerful enough to stop all the forces at work.

@ in the midst

Find out how much each of your students are paying for their lessons at Gaba, tell them you'll charge them less and steal as many students as you can.

Then save your pennies and start your own school.

Don't believe it. The whole English language industry is going to get worse and the union isn't powerful enough to stop all the forces at work.

.

Unions aren't going to change anything, unless they can somehow persuade hundreds of thousands more Japanese people to sign up for English classes, and ensure that the majority of English schools are owned and run by people who actually know something about education.

Find out how much each of your students are paying for their lessons at Gaba, tell them you'll charge them less and steal as many students as you can.

Then save your pennies and start your own school.

Before I criticize you, I want to thank you for being the only person who replied to my question and put some thought into it. Undoubtedly, you have started your own school, and things are working well for you. But being a small business owner isn't for everyone. If all 8 billion people in the world started their own business it wouldn't work out, would it? With the decline of a large industry, like eikaiwa, there is a good chance to find a niche, but for other markets, say restaraunts, mom and pops are getting shut down left and right. "Starting your own business" isn't sound advice for everyone.

"Stealing as many students as a you can" is also good advice, and I've taken a few, but at Gaba a huge percentage of them are business, and their companies subsidize the lesson fee. On top of that you get thrown out the door if any student complains about being solicited. It's definitely a risk. I mentioned before I'm raising two kids, and I don't have unemployment insurance. Some say joining a union is risky but this is just as. Might be a good idea to join a union and fight for unemployment, to get some leeway.

Hello everyone,
I see this topic is still going and has spurred a lot of debate. "Mildly Disappointed" questioned the veracity of the figures in the Japan Times figures. The article's author, James McCrostie posted here that he hasn't received any complaints from the company about the article. This is most likely because, as he said, he used Gaba's own figures.

I believe the figures he quoted can be found online on Gaba's stock exchange report from March this year. This was the same report that contained the statement that there was no union at Gaba, (page 7) and that also neglected to mention the Osaka Labor Commission ruling that instructors were employees under Trade Union law or Gaba's appeal of this ruling (which they have now lost). In other words, the same report which caused the General Union to submit an official complaint to the Stock Exchange Securities Commission last month.

The report can be accessed online at:
http://pdf.irpocket.com/C2133/kzOO/UUri/iMyZ.pdf

If you look at page 54 you will see that in 2008 GABA spent 1,619,640,000 yen on advertising and 734,632,000 on salaries. In 2009 it spent 853,846,000 on advertising and 637,826,000 on salaries.

When it comes to these figures it is not possible to simply divide the salary amount by the number of employees and itaku instructors. In the case of instructors, some only do a few lessons a week, some take a month or two off, and some work every day. In addition, the pay rates vary widely, although the majority of instructors are on the 1500 yen per lesson base rate. It is really difficult to generalize. But if anyone has further questions about the details, they are best taking it up with Gaba - that is where the figures come from.

Best regards,
Adrian Ringin

Treasurer, General Union, Gaba branch

I am afraid that the call for common sense has gone unheeded.

Someone does not know how to read financial statements accurately - or NEWSFLASH - the boys at the Union have uncovered glaring errors in Gaba's 2009 financial reporting missed by Gaba's own IR (investor relations) people and all the shareholders.

Mr. Ringin, even if you entirely cut instructors out of the equation with the numbers you are reporting and only calculate the average employee monthly salary you get numbers that just don't hold up to any kind of rational scrutiny.

I won't repeat all the math - on the assumption you are following me - but the monthly average of 53,083,333 yen divided by the 434 employees # on your fine website reports comes out to an average monthly salary for employees of just....

122,311 yen/ per employee.

Their gross deprivation must be providing you with fertile recruiting grounds, that is if they have the physical strength to act and move or think on such starvation wages..... And this assumes the instructors teach for free.

If you assume the 434 employees work for free - or perhaps operate something like the cadre for the kemer rouge, fueled and fed by Gaba Ideology only - then the whole 637,000,000 yen is allocated to the instructors and the monthly average take home for an instructor is:

62, 450 yen per instructor

Which using the using the most conservative lesson rate average of 1500 yen (which by the way is impossible) means the average instructor teaches about 42 lessons per month.

So 42 lessons per month X 850 instructors = 35, 388 lessons conducted per month/by the 35 schools they report to operate means they average about 1000 lesson conducted per month per location. OUCH!

If you assume the 637,000,000 is split fair and share 50/50 between the employees and instructors you get average monthly #s like:

61,155 yen per employee

and

31, 225 yen per instructor

or 21 lesson per month @ 1500 average, which comes out at 17,850 lessons conducted per month and around 500 per location. Double OUCH.

yes, I know I am a shithead already (thanks shawn!), but the math is that simple and you dodged asking yourself a serious question - does what we are reporting/trumpeting make any sense. at all....

mr. mildly disappointed shithead.

Darn you and your evil little calculator! Not only are you a mildly dissapointed shithead, you're obviously a mildly dissapointed, anti-union, pro-corporate shithead to boot. Let's have out with it - you work for Gaba, don't you?

In any case, you may have discovered (using only a calculator, sweet!) the biggest conspiracy since the Kennedy assasination. I highly recommend you write-off to both the Japan Times and Gaba Corp. with your concerns (and I mean this seriously).

@ in the midst

Mom and Pop businesses close all the time. Good point. Your right not to try. Trying is one step closer to succeeding and who would want to leave your nice rutt.

If you choose to remain a victim however, then be the best victim you can be! You'll do less by 4pm than most people will by 9am.

Bonne chance.

I work at Gaba. I teach quite a few lessons there. It's not flexible, you have to work nights and weekends to get lessons. I usually end up working about 35 hours a week. I get about 2.5-3k a year. That's not bad for the service industry - it would be hard to find that in the states. The actual job is quite easy, you just smile, parrot the text and expand from it every now and then. It requires no preparation, and you can do it tired, sick, whatever. The worst part is the frequency - 40 minute lessons and 5 minute "breaks" where you type in the lesson comments as quickly as possible.

I wouldn't compare it to a teaching job. It's service industry all the way through. I'd compare it more to a switchboard operator back in the 60's - basically mindless work, speaking all day until your mouth is tired, but not difficult.

The downside is lack of security or benefits. The article is right about that. I joined the union. I'm not overly optimistic about their chances of success nor do I have some vision about improving societal conditions, etc. But 2.5-3k a year for service isn't bad. 2.5-3k plus benefits and job security is better, so why not?

If anyone working at Gaba considers themselves to be a teacher they should be moving on ASAP. I've taught about 5,000 lessons there, people learn if they study at home in addition to their lessons. I've seen it. But I don't consider myself a teacher nor do I want to be a teacher. It's just a job like any other service gig. Clock-in, do your shift, and clock-out. It pays the bills.

I started to read it, but it is too long, and too negative. Fine, be negative, but could your repost - in point form - honestly your thesis is just too long and hard to get through, in one sitting.

Sadly some jackass insists on posting a negative "review" of this blog. It's online if you want to take the time to read it. Don't know what the poster thinks they are accomplishing by posting it other than being a nuisance.

The "review" of my blog is a titanic steaming pile of crap, btw. People can criticize LJ all they want, but the "review" in question is simply a character assassination of Chris and myself, and it's therefore worthless.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Thanks for summerising the content of that very very long post and your reply thus warranted but I must say that I do I think you should have at least complimented them on the time and energy they put into it. It was the longest post I have seen in here since inception.

You're too kind, unless that was a backhanded compliment on how difficult it must have been for the person to copy and paste something.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Shawn, certain people deep inside the language industry do not like you exposing their dirty laundry. That's all. Keep up the good work. We really appreciate your efforts (and Chris) and will continue to support you. Obviously the truth is hurting the blog poster. He won't win out in the end.

In his post, Shwan wrote:

If you read the article carefully, the fools who enjoy working at Gaba are actually the same guys who are supposedly Gaba Union representatives: Adrian Ringin and Jason Combs...and then you wonder why the general union has no credibility. It wouldn't surprise if the supposed Gaba Union is actually controlled by Gaba to stiffle real dissent.

In his post, Shawn wrote:
"Incredibly, the article goes on to briefly describe a couple of teachers who, despite the above, actually like working there."

If you read the article carefully, the fools who enjoy working at Gaba are actually the same guys who are supposedly Gaba Union representatives: Adrian Ringin and Jason Combs...and then you wonder why the general union has no credibility. It wouldn't surprise if the supposed Gaba Union is actually controlled by Gaba to stifle real dissent.

Having worked at GABA, it's one of those weird, sterile places that gives any normal person ther feeling that they're surrounded by brainwashed idiots, who thinks that the Soylent Greenesque institution is looking after them, when in fact something much more sinister is happening

Always saw GEOS as resonating of Kafka, one never knew what one was being accused of or why.

Wll, that's because GEOS, NOVA, and other Eikaiwa are set up in that way. They use negative staff and student comments to justify keeping salaries down, and teachers on their toes.

I found GABA to be a bit different because they actually explicitly used (anonymous) student comments as a stick, with which to beat you. After being told at training, to show up, for work, even with a cold, I did just that, only for my Head Teacher to drag me over the coals when a student complained. So I decided quickly that GABA was an absolute fucking joke, and I would rather starve to death with dignity than let myself be humiliated by a bunch of absolutely worthless, money grabbing cunts. Despite having my axe to grind with Nova and GEOS, in regard to GABA (just in case you haven't noticed) I despise them, with a passion. Biggest bunch of cunts I've ever met in my life. And not just the company, most of the twats who work there, and many of the students too.

I’m writing this post to address two points.

First, on an earlier post I dismissed a commentator’s criticism and stated that GABA did not complain about the article. It has been brought to my attention that GABA has in fact sent a letter to The Japan Times concerning my article. Someone from GABA then telephoned The Japan Times office and complained about my post on this blog claiming that GABA did not have any reaction to the article.

Second, I must admit an error and would like to apologize to readers of the article and the commentator "Mildly Disappointed" who questioned my figures comparing salaries and advertising budgets. The employee salary figures I cited in the article did not include the dispatch fees paid to instructors, which totalled 1,822,215,000 yen in 2009.

I won’t try to make excuses. I’m sorry for the error and again I apologize.

James McCrostie

Now, if only Gaba, GEOS and all the other douchebag Eikawa would apologize for their corrupt actions and nastiness, the world might be a better place...

I'm a Gaba instructor and a member of Gaba's second union, Tozen (Zenkoku Ippon Tokyo General Union ). The things that Gaba instructors really like are 1) the flexibility and 2) the freedom to choose the syllabus.

Gaba instructors in Tozen don't have to go for employee status if they don't want. Tozen just wants to listen to what people really want and go for that.

Funny, those were the exact two reasons I justified going to work there. As long as I do get paid and they don't hold back paychecks. TESL overseas isn't a career for a lot of people, just a way to live and work for a few months in foreign country.

The General Union had him arrested? I can't quite see how that works. I assume the person who was assaulted informed the police and pressed charges.

I'm going to work for GABA when I go to Japan. I certainly make more money here in America, making about 4400USD/month after taxes. But I want to go to Japan and teach English, and they'll put me where I want instead of somewhere in the sticks. Which is better than you'll get with Interac or JET.

So yeah it's probably signing a contract with the devil, but so what? He pays a living wage.

You might get an ok wage with gaba, but there's absolutely NO guarantee. You're freelance, and if no one books your lesson, you don't get paid.

Does anyone know what percentage of your fee your GABA lesson/student spotter (basically, your agent), eats? What is the biscuit, and what crumbs are the principal interest (you), left with?

How come all Marell’s spasticated posts and any replies to such spastication keep getting wiped? How come? You LJ people got it in for the spasticated’s spastication, or what? Bit of heart please. MC puts a lot of effort into spasticating, so all we ask for, is a little heart.

Hey @9:46, you've been told! Stop usimg my post name.If you can't come up with a decnt name of your own, then just go away.

Good to see Bed Red Dickhead wiped out yet again, and note that he's terribly upset about it as well, as per usual, leading to yet another round of self-projection, babbling about spastics, spastication and Marell's spasticated posts.

Who would have thought that having your posts deleted would cause such offence and hurt, and how mentioning the fact would only increase that, to the point where you have to make a reply just to protect your fragile ego, low self-esteem and confidence, and rant on about projection?

Just watch, Dickhead will be on here soon gibbering about something - Marell, spastics, stalkers, "got you", "gibbering" - they're his latest obsessions, no doubt others will be thrown into the mix in due course. He can't help but respond whenever I fire him up, the guy has no control over himself whatsoever, getting sexually-aroused by my little posts and comments. God knows what state his incontinence pants are in.

Wikipedia gives a pretty thorough commentary on Gaba (below a cut and paste from it), but from what I can gather, yes, GABA instructors are definitely “free-lance”, and on average get paid around USD10 to USD17 per lesson, with high incidence of ZERO PAY when student’s don’t cancel the lesson in time, and fail to show up. Assume lessons are ONE HOUR long. If you want to take home a gross (before tax) each month of just $3000, you would have to do around 8.8 lesson per five day working week day.

Anyone who knows the first thing about language instruction, knows that 8.8 lessons per working day, is an insane work load.

“Gaba instructors are not currently employees, but rather are 'itaku,' effectively independent contractors. Instructors have flexibility in choosing their schedule, although in practice the morning, evening, and weekend lessons are the ones which tend to book, as working Japanese people are more likely to be able to take lessons during those times. As a result, many instructors tend to focus their schedules on those times. Instructors submit the lessons they are available for via Gaba's intranet. Gaba only pays instructors for lessons that are booked and not canceled”

So in response to my little comments, Dickhead comes out with a rant about Gaba, to sidestep my broadside about what he'll reply with next, and, he hopes, not get his comment deleted, and avoid having his ego hurt. He's so stupid, he thinks that people can't see through it. Due to his constant self-projection, he actually thinks other people get upset when their comments deleted too.

Just watch how he responds to this one, before it gets deleted.

Do the math.

You will work your ass off, just to make a living (carrying double the work load, of any civilised language teaching company), and chances are, due to cancellation, you will never be able to teach the volume of lessons you require, just to get by.

I feel a fair estimation, is that your probable take home will be range $1000 to $2000, per month. You will struggle to feed yourself, and put a roof over your head, in Japan, on that sort of money.

My guess is you are entrenched in GABA management, and are trying your hand at on-line promotion, or you are taking the piss (a screwed up troll, looking to solicit a reply, any reply - pretty common in here these days), or you are being fed a load of horse shit.

Hi, Mr. Gaba Corporate Shill, my name's Matthew Allen and I'm an instructor at the Shinagawa LS. Unlike many people, I'm not afraid of you and your organization's illegal union-busting efforts. So, I dare you to come after me - or reveal your true identity...

As an interesting side note, the origin of the term shill is uncertain; it may be an abbreviation of the Yiddish shillaber. The word originally denoted a carnival worker who pretended to be a member of the audience in an attempt to elicit interest in an attraction. Some sources trace the usage only back to 1914.

I just love the way GABA ads spin it as though they design everything to suit you, the teacher, when in fact, they are racking their brains to find ways to strip you, and your "Job" (giggle) of every possible milligram of dignity. Hideous organization.

My guess is you are entrenched in GABA management, and are trying your hand at on-line promotion, or you are taking the piss (a screwed up troll, looking to solicit a reply, any reply - pretty common in here these days), or you are being fed a load of horse shit.

Neddy has little if any interest in GABA. The only reason he's making these posts feigning interest, and feigning the moral high ground, is to try and "get one over", "get to Marell", or whatever it is he calls it - as soon as Marell posts something critical of him, he posts a message on topic, says nothing directly about Marell other than a little snide, hypocritical comment about trolls (he has to say something about Marell, just to protect his ego) and, he hopes, Marell's posts will get deleted and his will remain. It's all part of his game, very see-through, and another sign of his fragile ego.

As it is, I've actually achieved my aim, finally forcing him to stop trolling and stick to topic. That was all I was aiming for all along. Of course, he may have relapses, and I'll continue monitoring his posts for any aberrations, but it looks like my constant disciplining of him is finally paying dividends.

Good work mate - I knew you could do it (even if it is just once).

You will work your ass off, just to make a living (carrying double the work load, of any civilised language teaching company), and chances are, due to cancellation, you will never be able to teach the volume of lessons you require, just to get by.

I feel a fair estimation, is that your probable take home will be range $1000 to $2000, per month. You will struggle to feed yourself, and put a roof over your head, in Japan, on that sort of money.

Neddy, you're gassing out your ringpiece as usual. If you checked carefully, you'll see that GABA instructors get paid Y1,500 per 40-minute lesson, with a 5 minute break in between. You basically work as a freelance contractor, building up your student base from zero.

If you're living out in the suburban areas in the prefectures around Tokyo or Osaka, living on your own in a one room place would probably average about 100k a month in rent, living and commuting expenses. That means, if you're totalling 20% in income tax, city tax and health insurance, you'd need 125k a month/30k a week to survive on, which is 20 lessons per week, x 40 mins = 13h 20 mins of work per week.

Peak times are early mornings or evenings. Over several months you could build up to that amount without too much trouble if you're reliable and genki enough, and probably exceed it. If you're going to go that way, I'd also look at doing coffee shop lessons - Y3,000 an hour, advertise on the internet for them, or in the local classifieds. You're not going to get rich off it but there's potential there to earn Y200k a month plus if you really try, giving yourself at least Y100k a month in disposable income.

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