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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.


Bla Bla Bla – put your little piece above, in your resume, when you apply for your much-coveted position of Course Director, with the British Council.

Once upon a time, people would avoid like the plague the few busy schools, because EIKAIWA “6” or “8” a day schedules are notoriously unsustainable, for even super-dooper qualified people like your good-self.

Now, out of necessity, GABA teaches have to scramble for those limited busy outlets, and even then – no show, no pay (even though the school still pockets coin, no doubt).

It’s fair to say that only a very limited number of GABA teachers, limited to a few sacred cow hot locations, would ever get a full time-table (3 to 4 a day is a reasonable estimate) – and when they do, not only does the teacher suffer, but so do the students. No paid lunch break, no benefits in store whatsoever – you are free-lance, and pulling private lessons in the meantime, is not the easy game it once was (thanks to places like GABA).

It’s interesting, however, that an outspoken little know it all, like yourself, has no critical comment on 5 minute breaks, work load, and thinks 1250 K is the survival line in Japan (fine, if you want to eat boiled rice in your spare time, and stare at the wall, or spend your entire time in Let’s Japan, stalking people).

Let’s see – if you do nothing in Japan, other than surf the net in your free time, you might be able to save about $1,200 a month, (according to you). That’s a 50 K house deposit, in 3 and a half years, with not a penny saved for retirement (or, about what any decent employer would have put away for you, for retirement, automatically, over the same time period).

I would not mind betting my last dime, that in your entire time in Japan (seems like you must have been there a hell of a long time, since you are so bat shit crazy), you did not even put away half that amount.

Tell me, in between your GABA schedule, and your private lessons, when does one find time to do CELTA and DELTA and whatever else?

It’s funny the effort you go to, just to elicit responses.

Suddenly, the Qualification’s Nerd, on the way to the upper echelons of the esteemed British Council, is not only advocating GABA, but reckons it’s the place to make a buck.

There is an army of people out there, who disagree with you (most of them, employees of GABA) – and I heard it was pretty much all over for GABA, by the way – so, in conclusion, as usual, just to elicit some kind of response (well done, you did), you are gassing it out your ring-piece, as usual.

GABA sucks, which is why most people, who have had anything to do with the place, hate it so.

Suddenly, the Qualification’s Nerd, on the way to the upper echelons of the esteemed British Council, is not only advocating GABA, but reckons it’s the place to make a buck.

What in the name of Christ are you gibbering on about now? Apparently I'm "advocating GABA", am an "outspoken little know it all", "on my way to the upper echelons of the British Council", and go to great lengths to "elicit a response". Mackorello's voice is clearly resonating in your mind and projecting onto me this morning, for a change.

Suffice to say, working at GABA and the coffee shop, you could stick away the grand total of Y100-150k a month if you tried hard enough. Take it or leave it. Personally, unless there was absolutely nothing else available, I'd do the latter.

Interesting that all there is for you in Japan, besides crap eikaiwa lessons, is eating boiled rice, staring at the wall and stalking people on the Internet. Shows how crap your existence in Japan is, and how badly you've failed to integrate with the culture, you pathetic little arsehole.

I don’t know how many times you have walked around the block in Japan, “Marell”, but let me share something with you.

The main reason people dislike / disliked GABA, is not / was not so much because of philosophical reasons (corporate bullshit repulsion syndrome), but quite simply BECAUSE, they found it too hard to survive / make a living. Despite all the corporate hyperbole, they find/found it too hard to feed themselves, and live a life with any dignity attached to it.

If only you had piped up earlier – you see, you could have taught them how to do it, and of course make more out of their GABA and broader Japan experience.

You are ridiculously generous. Do you even know the value of your living in Japan mathematical formulas? Why not write and publish a book, perhaps?

Seriously, thanks so much for your positive GABA insight.

And to GABA employees – THERE is a way – all you have to do is seek, walk into the shining light of prosperity being held by “Marell”, and cultural and economic salvation will be all yours for the taking.


To Marell:

So, let's assume that everything you're saying is true - and that working at Gaba isn't that bad (which I tend to agree with). Is there anything wrong with asking for a better situation?

I think we have to stand up to what Adam Smith called "the vile maxim of the masters of mankind"': "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people".

Unions provide checks and balances to corporate collusion against workers. As Smith said, "We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of the workman. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject."

So, surely you can't be against unions in general. Unless you're especially loyal to the corporation and its interests, and are among the ranks of those who want to criminalize the movement that ended child labor in industrialized countries and created the forty-hour work week. Again, that incorrigible radical Adam Smith...

“When masters combine together in order to reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond or agreement, not to give more than a certain wage, under a certain penalty. Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the same kind, not to accept of a certain wage under a certain penalty, the law would deal with them very severely…”

Only, because of centuries of fighting against union-busting, the law is now on our side. We have this right. So, why not use it, and honor all the people who died for it?



Anything available, to ensure that worker’s get their hard earned rights, and to make certain, corporations manage their workers as defined by law, or even better, is a positive move.

However, due to the smoke screen of cultural and linguistic restraints (culture shock, negative or positive, in many ways, making workers ripe for exploitation), and the reality that the job itself is not really a professional job (although it should be, if the interests of the students were at heart), UNION MEMBERSHIP numbers form the Achilles Heal.

Because of the two factors above, which results in putting up with the grind of smiling and flapping your mouth off, a “transient worker mind-set” (despite all the want to be corporate jockey’s breathing down your neck, as if you were working in the head office of Mitsubishi) IS created.

Transient workers, with no respect for their work, no respect for the profession (and in most cases, no understanding of it), in addition to having no respect for their employees, tend to see “FUN NOW plus EXIT STRATEGY”, and despite actually believing Unionism is an answer, decide NOT to put the tuppence in to going down that path.

It all goes back to the basics of appreciating, while there are enough sheep lining up to work in Eikaiwa, for diminishing returns (and despite hiccoughs here and there, supply over-all is ample), no-one gives a shit – not the employers, or the employees.

The job’s a joke, and the companies that run the side-show are a joke, so, most people, while they whine a lot, just want to sip on a few cold ones in Japan, try their hands at KARAOKE and SUSHI, take a look around, and then piss off.

So, while not liking it at all, they swallow the shit.

Should I spend this money on Union fees, or should I buy myself a few cold beers?

Hmm, the job is a joke, I am here only until September, so I will take the cold beer.

That’s what you are up against.

That being said, it’s a shame, so good luck with your Union movement.

So, let's assume that everything you're saying is true - and that working at Gaba isn't that bad (which I tend to agree with). Is there anything wrong with asking for a better situation?

It's natural to want to better your situation, which is why I wouldn't advise GABA for any length of time, for reasons already stated, unless there was absolutely nothing else you could do. If you are going to carry on with that sort of work and want to stay in Japan long-term, I'd advise setting up your own school. GABA may be OK for a year or two's working holiday in Japan, or to get set up in the country. Beyond that, it's only good for bitter, twisted, crazed nerds like our little troll friend Bed Red Dickhead Ned, who are incapable of doing anything else with their sad little lives, and spend the majority of their time in Japan, by his own admission, eating boiled rice, staring at the wall, and trolling and stalking people on the Internet.

The main reason people dislike / disliked GABA, is not / was not so much because of philosophical reasons (corporate bullshit repulsion syndrome), but quite simply BECAUSE, they found it too hard to survive / make a living. Despite all the corporate hyperbole, they find/found it too hard to feed themselves, and live a life with any dignity attached to it.

I'll address this part of your post, as the rest of it makes absolutely no fucken sense whatsoever. I know you'll never understand this, being that things didn't work out for you in Japan, and you continuously troll people on message boards to get rid of your bitterness but, like I just said, if it's too hard to survive or make a living, pull your finger out and try to improve things, for example, set up your own school, do further study and get further qualifications, or find a better job.

That's what I've done - a CELTA, two years experience, then a DELTA or Master's, PhD, and I'm the Director of Worldwide Operations for the British Council according to you.

Nope, I never ran short in Japan, never lived off boiled rice, never stared at the wall, and never trolled or stalked people (unlike you), but I do know plenty of people, who really struggled to make ends meet, working for places, like GABA.

Go back over your history of totally fucked posts Doctor Nutcase (not all of them have been deleted), and then go and see a shrink.

If not, well, I will always be here for you, to squeeze reactions from - or at least, for you to pretend to yourself, you have squeezed a reaction from.

You will flip flop around, jumping from the sane to the insane, like a crazy person, always soliciting replies, any reply, always looking for reactions, any reaction, confirmations, anything, that brings you a sense of recognition and purpose, which frankly, is so pathetic, it ranges from being humorous to witness, to being boarder line revolting, to see.

You are a truly weird person, but hey, whatever gives you kicks.

"Look, my dear Internet Audience, see how I have played Bed Red Ned, and what I have got have got him to do. I have POWER. See, how I have made him dance! See, how he dances, to my tune"

You know what the really scary thing is?

Some where, in the world, you are loose, in the classroom, with students.

If only they knew, who it was, that really sits in front of them.

It's enough to put a shiver down my spine, you poor, sick, totally twisted, useless fuck.

But the argument that one should just "find a better job" is a joke in a market economy where standards are essentially the same.

One needs to stand up against the shift towards the trend toward temporary work that's taking over industrialized countries. Don't just run away. Stand and fight.

And not just selfishly for yourself. For your fellow worker.

That's more like it Neddy - get that seething anger off your chest! All the pent-up frustrations, torment and anxiety of your existence, put it all onto "Marell Cook"!!

What have we got now? Apparently "Marell has power" over you, and wants to tell the whole world about it. Marell also trolls and stalks people, in addition to living off boiled rice and staring at the wall. He's also weird, insane, truly fucked, let loose in the classroom with poor students, and this is all very very scary (I agree with that last remark). I also squeeze reactions from you, and pretend to myself to squeeze reactions from you, and flip flop around soliciting reactions.

Please, do tell us more.

But the argument that one should just "find a better job" is a joke in a market economy where standards are essentially the same.

Even though it's "gloomy economic times", there are a lot of jobs being advertised across all professions, and somebody has got to get those jobs. It's a case of, if at first you don't succeed, try again. And again after that, and so on. If you give up, you've got no chance.

When you say "a market economy where standards are essentially the same", I presume you're talking about labour standards. The way employers treat their employees varies greatly but, generally, the higher the skill of the profession, and the bigger market share a particular employer has got, the better the labour standards. So in eikaiwa, which is unskilled work, has a transient workforce, not to mention plagued with criminals, labour standards are going to be pretty low.

Like I said, the best bet, in my opinion, is to start up your own school, set your own standards and then live up to them. I know several ex-eikiawa teachers who've done that successfully, and are better off for it.

But the argument that one should just "find a better job" is a joke in a market economy where standards are essentially the same.

Even though it's "gloomy economic times", there are a lot of jobs being advertised across all professions, and somebody has got to get those jobs. It's a case of, if at first you don't succeed, try again. And again after that, and so on. If you give up, you've got no chance.

When you say "a market economy where standards are essentially the same", I presume you're talking about labour standards. The way employers treat their employees varies greatly but, generally, the higher the skill of the profession, and the bigger market share a particular employer has got, the better the labour standards. So in eikaiwa, which is unskilled work, has a transient workforce, not to mention plagued with criminals, labour standards are going to be pretty low.

Like I said, the best bet, in my opinion, is to start up your own school, set your own standards and then live up to them. I know several ex-eikiawa teachers who've done that successfully, and are better off for it.

Nope, I never ran short in Japan, never lived off boiled rice, never stared at the wall, and never trolled or stalked people (unlike you), but I do know plenty of people, who really struggled to make ends meet, working for places, like GABA.

What this really means is - Neddy ran short in Japan, lived off boiled rice, stared at the wall, trolled and stalked people, and really struggled to make ends meet working for NOVA.

Sums up the guy's pathetic little existence perfectly.

Matthew Allen makes a good point about the trend in industrialized nations to put the workforce on temporary or contractual labor contracts. Japan is just an extreme example where 40% of the workforce is temporary. But countries like the US are rapidly catching up as they continue to privatize. I have a feeling most people wont stand and fight until they have no choice - where economic conditions deteriorate to the point where even leaving a job where one can't make ends meet is no longer an option, despite qualifications.

However, in the case of Japan I don't think lack of numbers is the achilles' heel of the labor movement, though it certainly doesn't help any. In the US, for example, a majority of a workplace must vote to unionize before the union is recognized. In the case of Japan, only a single individual is needed to form a labor union, which the company is legally obligated to bargain with. That single individual can legally strike, file unfair labor practices and lawsuits, etc. So individual unionists in Japan have a lot more power than many of their overseas counterparts.

Good point. Yeah, I'm feeling the brunt of my challenge to the shills on here right now - just went through bout of scurrilous union busting. But, despite being in the minority, I'm far more protected than I would be in the States.

Does one person have that much power though? And especially when you have a very small, militant movement such as the GU, it puts a lot of people off joining up.

Unionism in Japan has been pretty low-key in recent years, though there may be changes in that situation as more people become temporary workers.

According to the Japanese constitution and trade union law, yes, one person has that much power. In Gaba's case, I wouldn't consider GU to be particularly "militant," because they are only demanding the simplest benefits provided to workers under labor law, not trying to advance the law. And as yet they have not resorted to strikes or demonstrations, the definition of "militant." They have only followed a legal course like most unions in Japan, which is their right under the constitution "for the betterment of society."

Unionism in Japan has actually been quite active in the past few years. Union activity has slowed the trend of "haken-giri" and with the exception of the Rengo federation, most unions have taken a stance and participated in mass demonstrations against nukes.

I can't see that one person bargaining on behalf of themselves is going to effect any real changes, so I wouldn't say they've got much power at all. And with regards to militancy, the recent Berlitz strike comes to mind. Strikers were referring to people who didn't participate as "scabs" and "caffeine cowboys". Doesn't do much for their claims to be helping their fellow worker.

Under trade union law, if a corporation refuses to enter collective bargaining with the union, even if it only represents one individual in the workplace, it is breaking the law. So there are legal recourses for the individual where it is possible to effect change. If not for the entire workforce, than for the unionized individual. It all depends on the results of the bargaining.

Regarding the Berlitz strike, that was Begunto, not GU. And Begunto can make an equal claim about help from their fellow workers. Some teachers were referred to as "caffeine cowboys" because they were paid to wait around in case of a strike, so they could rush in and break the strike. I don't think Begunto referred to every non-participant as a "scab." Just those actively involved in breaking the strike.

A good example of a minority successfully bargaining in the workplace is ECC. They hold annual collective bargaining and win contractual improvements each year.

Fair enough. Good to hear someone from the Union making level-headed comments and debate on these things. My views have probably been tainted by the militant and aggressive attitude of the Tokyo NAMBU, in particular a guy calling himself Bob Sixpence, quite possibly Bob Tench, former Nova Union leader, who used to post on another web forum like this one, and from whom I was subjected to considerable abuse for disagreeing with his more hardline stance.

Unlike corporations, which are a complete hierarchy, unions typically have some kind of democracy, either direct or representative. This is how the union's policy is determined. So if the most militant union members are elected to leadership posts, the union will tend to take a more militant stance. It is a shame your union experience wasn't positive. I've had both good and bad experiences, which is why I think it is important to participate in union activities if you are a member, take part in elections and meetings, etc. To make sure the union heads in a direction you want to take it.

If members join, pay dues but then don't participate in union activities, they give a free hand to the leadership. I think it is important to be an active member but also to criticize leadership when needed. A lot of people I've notice regard the union as a kind of service, with its leadership as the "boss," and don't exercise their right to influence the union, which is very important. Kind of like criticizing a government but neither voting nor joining a political party. Personally I favor a more militant stance in my union, but am restricted by the democratic process and must go along with what the majority decides, which is fair.

Unions are scum....There is no "democracy" in a socialist hotbed like a union! What planet are you living on? No secret union vote ballot, not democracy...That would be against all its 'brothers and sisters' left-wing mumble-jumble...

Big unions are failing, and for good reason...Just look at their 30-year drop in membership. They are biased, way too political (left-wing or much for "democrazy), and have outlived their usefulness many times over. Do not believe me? Read more at the Web site...

Before you know it, left-wing Larry's, try READING it. There is absolutely no one article or statement that lies...If there is, prove it with FACTS not rhetoric or lefty, anti-corporation, anti-competitive, anti-pretty-much-everything propaganda

Hey, Mr.-Anti-Union-Pro-Company, do you work for Gaba? Or Walmart? So, you think child labor is good? How many hours a week do you work? And why do you think it is less than what 19th century coal miners worked? Because of the benevolence of your corporation (praised be its name)?

When the unions first won in Britain big time, they were taken into a plush office somewhere in Westminster and told: OK boys you've won. Do you want the country or what? Of course you realise that either you continue running our empire, shoving it to the nignogs and bringing home all that foriegn booty or the living standard of this country won't be any better than your typical Russian peasant. Can you handle that?

No, we didn't thinks so. So here's what we'll do. You keep letting us run the empire, shoving it to the nignogs and bringing home the booty and we'll agree to improve your working situation a little and do something about social welfare: alright?

Great. Just sign here. It's called a Social Contract, and for as loing as you can maintain control over our energy resources we'll stick to our end of it. Of course as soon as we run out of coal here, chaps, well that's a different story. But don't worry Britain first, nignogs second: right? You recommend people get information about unions from Center for Union Facts, a right-wing organization sponsored by notorious union-buster Richard Berman? Get real.

The 30 year drop in membership was a result of improving economic conditions. Union membership has now been increasing since the great recession. There were mass or general strikes this year in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Bolivia, Honduras, South Africa, France and the UK, just to name a few.

When the conservative type of government you advocate concentrates wealth, implements austerity measures and can't even provide a bare minimum standard of living, people organize. Sow the seeds...

Actually, I checked Heard a little about it before, but never went to it until now.

Why is it the left-wingers always shout down anything that might remotely put holes in some of their schemes and theories? The reality is I have worked in and outside unions for some time, in a variety of jobs, getting to know the true nature of them. My family has also been forced to be under the union (so much for "democracy"). From what I have looked up on, and it is a quite extensive resource, is almost all true by personal experience and those of family and friends. So far, the other poster is right in saying they only provide facts and no one has been able to successfully challenge them. The site looks to be much better researched then others, and very comprehensive.

I encourage everyone to think for themselves and check out many sites. does expose a lot, but you can always believe or not believe it. But that is the beauty of a free society (when it really is "free"), we can make up our own minds and not be forced by 'brothers and sisters' or other politically motivated groups that we do not agree with.

18:05 Reading your red book religiously these days? If you haven;t notice, Communism has failed miserably over the last hundred years. Places like China are pretend Communist, with very Capitalistic markets and growing fast. Only North Korea can be considered "communist" and look how bad that country is...Even Cuba and Castro have admitted PUBLICLY (something the pro-Cuba communists have somehow ignored) that Communism failed and now they will implement capitalist principles, even if slowly. For all its shortcoming, capitalism not only survived but is still around and kicking...A few tweaks here and there, and it will keep ticking for some time. Unlike communism.

P.S. Greece failed because of its idealistic left-wing policies...Funny how the capitalist banks and other "capitalist countries" are the ones actually bailing Greece out and feeding people.

You make out as if it's an equal struggle, or even that unions are the big bad guys. When it's clear that corporations are infinitely more powerful. My basic, common-sense morality is to always stand up for the underdog.

Even though it's true that there have been examples of undemocratic unions, corporations are by definition undemocratic. Look at the death tolls of those killed by corporations and those killed by corporations, and you'll find everything you need to know.

Living in an industrialized society like Japan, you spend half of your day in a democracy, and half of it in a world akin to North Korea, with absolutely no freedom of speech. That second world is called a corporation - a place where one of the main things holding people back from joining a union is fear of the company being able to get away with union-busting.

So, are you anti-union people against the Japanese constitution like Gaba is? You do know Gaba is suing the Japanese government for recognizing bare-minimum worker rights, right?

Also, could I ask all of the anonymous posters on here to reveal their true identities. I'm getting tired of being the only one honest about who I am and what I stand for.

That's such a lie about Greece. Goldman Sachs, anyone? And they're not bailing them out out of altruism. It's called disaster capitalism - look it up.

Finally, calling the Soviet union socialist was a convenient lie for both the Americans and the Russians - the Americans because it associated things like universal health care with Stalin's atrocities, and the Russians because they could misappropriate a common-sense idea: that you should care whether your neighbor has enough food to eat.

Look, there is obviously no need for Unions in Eikaiwa.

There are essentially no issues, with regards to workers rights, entitlements, and job security, in relation to the law, in Eikaiwa.

There is a lot of huff and puff, but 99% of the bullets fired at Eikaiwa, turn out to be just that.

Most people love working for Eikaiwa.

They love the interaction with the students, they love the money, and they most of all love the opportunity that Eikaiwa provides for them to live in fascinating culture, vastly different to their own.

Eikaiwa provides a globally unique environment, where immensely dissimilar cultures blend, infuse and interact, establishing common bonds, in an environment where goodwill is generated, and life long international friendships prosper.

It’s a bit like taking a trip overseas, but you get paid for it, and the customer, the customer get’s that same feeling, but at a fraction of the cost.

And besides, if you do find an “issue” (by and large, they don’t exist), well, just go and see a lawyer.

Japan does have a lot of lawyers.

Yes, with regards to Union Necessity and Eikaiwa, isn’t a bit like saying “sterilize those twice already sterilized scissors, which have been sealed in sterilized plastic, just to be sure”?

Well, most Eikaiwa workers think so.

And for those who went through it, and did find a few issues, overwhelmingly, once time has transpired, they say “I would do it all again”.


If that were true, why would eikaiwa companies go to such lengths to stop unions?

And why can't you say who you are?

Hey Matt, it's not true - I was taking the piss - sorry, thought it was obvious.

No sweat. But who are you? It's so confusing on this site. I don't who's a shill and who's a real person.

And I'm putting myself in danger of persecution by a corporation that has already come after myself and other union members, in violation of the law. If anyone should be anonymous here, it should be me...

Who's bailing out Greece? IMF is granting loans to banks and corporations (60 million Euros this time around from 110 million last year) conditional on privatizing public jobs, cutting pay, and increasing regressive taxation, in a country with 15% unemployment. A few wealthy elites get bailed out on the backs of the population. Half the working population just launched a general strike last month, and you have millions of people camped out in front of the government, demanding refusal of the loans and austerity measures.

Who is FINANCING the IMF? TAX MONEY from CORPORATIONS and MARKETS....The U.S. pumps the most money into the IMF. Where does the U.S. government get the money? TAXING COMPANIES, ENTREPRENEURS, AND THOSE PESKY WEALTHY ELITE.

Kind of like governments...TheY only survive on the backs of corporation...Taxing/ leeching off other people and their hard work. Governments cannot survive alone (corporations can)...It doesn't take a brain to tax someone....It does take one, and hard work, to actually make money in the first place.

Do not bite the hand that feeds you...

Why do you love corporations so much? Do you think they love you?

As to your point, the purpose of the IMF is usury in order to privatize countries for the corporations that fund it.

Oh, and why won't you say who you are?

So, if corporations can survive on their own, we can remove the public transportation, infrastructure, police, fire department, trash collection, public education, and subsidies that sustain them, yeah?

I don't think it's as simple as saying that corporations are undemocratic and Unions are democratic, therefore one's inherently bad and the other good. A successful corporation, that is, one that provides a good service to its customers and makes money, over an extended period of time, will look after its workers properly. It's in their interests to do so if they want to be successful. If they treat their employees badly, employees are going to get pissed off and not work as well as they could, or else find other work where they're treated better.

I don't think it's the corporate structure that inherently screws people over, it's the attitude of the people running the show. If corporations were democratic like Unions, chances are that decisions would take longer to get made, and plenty of people would still be pissed off anyway if it needs a simple majority to pass a decision. I'd rather have a benevolent dictator making decisions, who takes on board the opinions and feelings of everyone in their organization, than a bunch of rabble-rousing militants more interested in pushing a hard line.

So, Marell, you favor plutocracy over democracy? You're right that a dictatorship is more efficient than a democracy. But more efficient at serving whose interests?

And do you consider asking for the bare minimum guaranteed by the Japanese constitution to be "pushing a hard line"?

Well, I'm just commenting on hypothetical situations that can crop up. It's not meant to criticize you personally, although I have seen things going on with the Tokyo NAMBU before that I thought were disagreeable. Just my opinion.

IMO, the best thing you can do, if you find that labor standards fall so far short of decent (which I think is pretty standard in a rotten business like eikaiwa), is to set up your own company, implement your own labour standards, and treat the people you hire in the way that you'd expect to be treated as an employee.

No, I really appreciate the civil tone you afford me and want to do my best in return. So, in that spirit, my rebuttal would be that, when setting up one's own company, in order to compete with unscrupulous competition, it would become necessary to compromise on one's principles just to stay in business. And so it's pressure on every company that's needed. But I think I said this before in this thread. So, we're going in circles...

As to corporate taxes, they are passed on to the consumer or made up for in regressive taxation schemes like sales tax. When you hike sales tax, who do you think it hurts the most? And that's only the corporations that actually pay their taxes. Microsoft or Boeing for example, successfully avoided paying any taxes last year. I paid all of mine.

As to benevolent business leaders, I agree with Matthew. Competition inevitably leads corporations to reduce labor costs and maximize worker efficiency. It's in the workers interest to sell the least amount of their labor at the highest price. It's in the corporation's interest to get the most labor out of the worker for the lowest price possible. Marrell, you mention people can always move on if they are maltreated by a company. But that simply isn't the case when unemployment is high, for example, and there are people willing to work for less. And in cases of economic downturn, opening up your own business isn't always feasible, nor is getting the initial capital required. Everyone in society can't have their own business. We have to produce commodities. We have to have factories, and distributors, suppliers, energy and transportation industries, etc.

You have no idea Matt.

You are talking to a troll, actually, not just a troll, but a super troll.

Bob Tench displayed a similar approach to you, in his communications with it, but when Bob refused, over-time, to acknowledge and agree with the trolls points (which was impossible to do, since it’s points were nothing more than uneducated, skin-deep, powder coating, that never got to the core of any issue), out it came.

Months and months and months of Bob being stalked, with the most common accusation being made by the troll, that Bob was a pedophile, and did “things” to minors behind his local gym in Japan. The same stalking style has since been directed at others. This troll – it draws in, pretending to be seriously interested in an issue, any issue, only to then insult, and stalk, and when I say stalk, I say relentlessly stalk, sometimes for months, and in some cases, for years (even going so far as to religiously track IP addresses, trying to pinpoint the exact location of it's victim).

If you don’t roll over and agree with this troll, then sooner or later, you will suffer the same fate.

Funny for a while, but eventually, it gets really creepy.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

It's not in fear of the corporates. People tend not to do it in here, because of the stalking troll, and until it goes away (if it ever goes away), my guess is the majority of people who come in here (very few these days, again, thanks to the troll), will elect to handle up under "anonymous".

All right. Fair enough. Thanks for the warning. This website's taking up too much of my time, anyway. I'll step out. But anyone here (and I mean anyone) is welcome to come by Tozen and have a debate in person about anything and everything. It really is the most democratic union in Japan. Some of the members are even Republicans (in the American sense). Just check out the website under my name and contact us if you want to really have it out - or even just learn more.

"There's always a better job out there," "You can just start your own company," and other common phrases are only as good in practice as getting an Eikaiwa or Dispatch company to put you on shakai hoken. For the lucky few, it will work out, but for others it won't.

I hated companies telling me that "you can't be on shakai hoken because you don't work more than 30 hours a week" (sure in theory, but in practice, I'm at my place of work for more than 6 hours a day, 5 days a week). The fundamental problem here is that the company gets to decide when you take a "break" and therefore manages your "work hours" to make things more convenient for the company, even though in practice it expects employees to be working during their "break" time. This was the ultimate breaking point for my work in Japan, before I decided to go home where labor laws spell things like break time out more specifically.

My problem with the GU (and most onther unions in Japan) was that I didn't live in or near a big city where a union is located. My company certainly wouldn't have paid the transportation costs for me to go to union meetings, and neither would the union. In my case, it wasn't reasonable to pay the dues for a union that I couldn't be an active part of. I'm sure that there are some in Japan who feel this way. So, instead, if I had a problem with my rights in the workplace, it seems that I would have been better off taking it up with the Labor office.

That's a good point. Working in Tokyo, attending branch meetings has never been a problem for me. GU is headquartered in Osaka, but they have reimbursed my shinkansen fair every time I've attended Annual General Meetings in Osaka. And their executives often come up to Tokyo for both branch meetings and court hearings.

Going to the Labor Standards office by yourself works good for some people. Other people find it easier for the union to assist them, translate and interpret, and use their influence to assist the case. One of our executives is a very slick cross-examiner in court. Ultimately though, if Labor Standards office rules against you, or the company appeals for years to higher courts, even up to the supreme court, and they harass you in the workplace, you need the options of filing unfair labor practices and striking. And you have to be in a union to claim violations of trade union law and to legally strike.

All right. Fair enough. Thanks for the warning. This website's taking up too much of my time, anyway. I'll step out.

That's probably a good idea, this message board is screwed up due to trolling. I'll start posting under a different name as well, this nutcase quite clearly can't handle it, and will continue destroying the board as long as he thinks I'm posting on here.

I wonder if it learned it's lesson this time? Doubt it. Doesn't seem to respond to discipline at all. It will be back for more.

So, several days, even weeks, of ranting on about "trolls" and "stalkers" has resulted in destroying the board. Was that your intention? Are you working for a Union or anti-Union organization?

Oh dear! Have no concern, it will be subject to discipline in another week or so, maybe earlier, fingers crossed. Between now and then, look forward to the forum being bombarded with more of the usual baits (it’s most recent ones are not too dissimilar to it’s original ones – organized labour – and of course, the usual slander against various people who know what it is (it doesn’t like that), and then, when it is exposed (it amusingly has the habit of digging it’s own grave, by saying dumb ass stuff that blatantly but unintentionally reveal what it is), instead of retreating, as the laughter increases, it launches a vomitus diatribe about it being a victim, and not an aggressor, threatens legal action, and incongruously desperately starts doing a victory dance. If it wasn’t so hilarious, you would take it out the back, and whack it with a stick, for being so deliberately insidious. It is staggering, the amount of time and energy, this thing puts in to its bullshit. It’s really nothing short of being side-splittingly entertaining. Yes, creepy at times, but otherwise, raw entertainment, and a live educational insight into internet use related mental illness.

It's the same theme every time - stalkers, trolls, lessons, bait, victims, and now Bob Tench and the Union. Poor bugger's lost it but doesn't seem to realize.

It replies with a two sentence reply. Same tired old bullshit and trickery of course, but considering the briefness of it's reply, it could just be that it might be, incredibly, after all this time, FINALLY be waking up. May be the last round of discipline did have a sting. Time will tell.

I work under a union shop right not, not in teaching is about 90% right in what I have experienced in my 4 years since returning from Japan and having to get a full-time job. Just being honest, not political.

What do others that currently or used to work under unions think in relation to Seriously, don't slam it until you have looked up your union on there...They have a easy search feature. Mine is there (and, no, I am not telling which one or lest my car windows be smashed)...I knew of some of the shenanigans but not all. So it was an interesting read...

Great to see that the discipline is finally working. Despite a few random gibberings and repetitions, the colossal bombardment combined with subsequent clearance has pretty much rendered him incapable of anything.

Good job all!

Unions will never happen in ESL...But if they did, I will make a Web site like this to keep them in check. Just the facts...

Teacher's Unions Exposed

Hmm, what’s been posted recently:

1. More embarrassing, quivering tear-drops disguised as air punches from Mad Marell, the super-qualified Mom and Pop Advocate.

2. Union slobber-lop – which is a joke, since Eikaiwa sucks without Unions, and Eikaiwa sucks with Unions – the only people living in fear of Unions, are the Mom and Pop outfits (not the bigger Japanese Chains - it's mostly just rhetoric from them) – having popped up like mushrooms, following the Great Eikaiwa Bubble Burst (even the big brands No Union Status did not stop that), the Moms and Pops are pooping themselves, that they may not continue getting away with screwing instructors.

No ability to scam = less money for them, and heaven forbid that.

Lesson to be learned in this place - if you are employed by a Mom and Pop Outfit, then find out what your rights are - they will do anything, to slow that passage of knowledge down, even if it is just so they can fuck you over, for one month. Anti-Union slobber-lop, or send you on a protracted mission, to the labor standards office (the latter method - they get a good three to six months of dicking you over, before having to face the music, and by the time you figure out how to get your dues, well, you are just about over the whole experience anyway).

Anyway, no-one posts in here anymore. I wonder why?

Not to worry. Deletions are nearly due.

The only interesting thing has been the reading at They would not have all the info and facts if the unions and their actions did not give it to them in the first place. Bored? is the best bet.

Mom and Pop schools are for the most part just that. Pop teaches, Mom handles the business end. The vast majority of them do not employ at all.

Those few that do are an exception and there are not very many of them when compared with all the other Japanese owned small operations that are around. If you check around not only eikaiwa but actually most small busniesses in Japan the vast majority do no comply with labour standards regulations. Being in breach of them is the norm here, so any of the few mom and pop schools that do employ who don't follow the rules would simply be doing what everyone else in this country is doing.

There are probably a few hard nut gaijin operators out there, who got their training working for a Japanese company first, but generally most of the gaijin who employ would actually be more open to negotiation and fair play arguments than your average Japanese employer.

It really isn't the Mom 'n Pop operators that are the problem...They work hard with what they have and employ people that might not otherwise have jobs. Who is really to blame for the shameful state Eikawa is in are the large Japanese operators, such at GEOS. Companies like GEOS are some of the most corrupt and incompetent organization out there. Why? Well, the are run by corrupt and incompetent "managers" who do not have a basic sense of business and ethics that a Grade 9 student would have. These are the real problems int he industry.

You have:

(1) Japanese “corporate” owners of big chains
(2) Mom and Pop Outfits

And you have obsessive gaijin poster/s in here, clearly terrified (or pretending to be terrified) of workers actually getting paid, according to the law / their rights.

Given the Great Eikaiwa Collapse has been and gone (and the Golden Era will never come back), I am not so sure there are any Corporate Ladder Climbing Wankers left, who don’t see Eikaiwa for what it is – if they do exist, they would realize they are just as disposable and exposed as a Newbie Instructors, so it is hard to imagine a Wanna Be Corporate Jockey blowing his/her anti-organized labor trumpet in here. Why would they bother? Why would they waste their time like that? There is no benefit to them, or anyone. There is literally nothing they can gain, by crapping on, in places like this. The company makes them do it? Doubt it.

So, the way I see it, it’s Moms and Poppers, or it’s trolls (trolls post, just to elicit a reply – any reply – any reply being, even if it is all just a walk down the garden path, to no-where, the trolls primary motivation).

The worst exploitation stories I have heard – in fact, Moms and Poppers were behind them. There is a chance it’s just shitting themselves Mom’s and Poppers, living in fear of being exposed, as a result of more knowledge getting out there / becoming easier, to access.

All I know, is some pip squeak in here, if not a troll, is shitting itself, instructors might just figure out what they are supposed to be paid / what benefits they are supposed to get.

Whatever the case (either/or), it's pretty amusing to witness it. Actually, it's quite hilarious.

Totally agree with 12:47. GEOS is definitely at the bottom of th sh*t pile. Completely unethical and run by incompetent idiots with barely the ability to calculate something on a calculator. Gaba is not much better.

Oh I totally agree with most of it, accept for the left wing comments. It's hilarious, when right wing propaganda is met with a mocking laugh, and exposure for the BS that it is, that the poster gets accused of being left wing.

Yes, ALL EIKAIWA chains pretty much suck, but that does not mean, small operators should be given the green light to screw as they please, picking up where the fallen "giants" left off.

And, it's true - while the BIG servers of native english slops evil deeds have been widely publicised, the very worst cases of exploitation are in fact found in the smaller, privately owned schools, otherwise known as Mom and Pop outfits.

Bottom line - if you decide to dance the Native English Speaker Jig in Japan, then no matter who your employer is, KNOW your rights! There is a fast way of staying in touch, and knowing what your rights are, and there is a slow way - and there are also ways in between the two extremes.

Whatever the case, do not TRUST the person/people/company that you sign on the dotted line with.

The Industry in Japan is NOTORIOUS for dicking workers over - big companies, small companies, individuals - they do it, because of your inability while living in Japan, to get the right information quickly (due to language and cultural constraints) - your ineptitude allows them to rob you.

Simple list:

Maximum screwover: non white immigrants (ouch)
Regular screwover: Japanoese employees
Soft touch screwover: whiteys like you

Stop moaning. You have it as easy as it gets.

I worked at GABA for awhile and I must say that I was shocked to find that many of the things I've read were completely true.

So let's start with the positive:

1) You get to submit your own availability of 40 minute lesson blocks, which the ISL and clients (they call students clients for some reason)

2) They will sponsor your Visa

3) You can get promoted if you can roll with the BS and make 2000 yen per lesson

4) A lot of really nice and cool people are teachers and clients of Gaba

The negatives are just as many:

1) Gaba divides the work day in to 40 minute lesson blocks. You are paid 1500 yen per lesson. But most of your day won't get "booked" the first few days you put it down.

2) You often don't get paid for canceled lessons. You are expected to work every time block you schedule since clients can book at the last minute. But if they don't, you don't get paid even though you're required to do work.

3) There is no number of guaranteed lessons per month which means no minimum guaranteed income, and they can basically fire you whenever they want with the proper notice.

4) The schedule is NOT at all flexible if you are full time AND new. To make hours at some locations you have to work weekday nights and weekends, especially when you're new. Why? They require 160 lessons a month in your contract if you are sponsored.

5) There are no benefits like holidays, sick days, health insurance, paid transportation or unemployment insurance. Training is NOT paid and it goes on for about 9 hours for 3 days straight. If you miss one day of it or don't do well enough they will make you repeat it.

6) They can move you to a new location without your consent. When I moved here I was within walking distance of my work, now I pay a 780 yen round trip fee to get to work.

7) If you get a negative evaluation you'll get talked to about it for about 20-30 minutes. And of course, not get paid for it. Clients get a free lesson if they give you a negative evaluation, so be ready to get slapped for one for the most random and trivial of reasons.

"7) If you get a negative evaluation you'll get talked to about it for about 20-30 minutes. And of course, not get paid for it. Clients get a free lesson if they give you a negative evaluation, so be ready to get slapped for one for the most random and trivial of reasons."

Strange. I thought that, under the GABA contract, you are legally partners or sub-contractors (or some bloody thing) in the whole enterprise. Therefore, you are actually (according to Japanese law) entitled to enter into direct negotiations with the student, and decide upon the arrangement (including payment) yourself.

Oh my gosh! Could it be that GABA are flouting Japanese Labor Laws for their own gain?? Could it be that they are giving the legal impression that you are one thing, yet expecting you to 'yes sir, no sir' like a regular employee??? Oh, no! Say it isn't true!!!!


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