Keeping our heads above water

Tokyo

I am writing in response to Andrew Sheldon’s March 1 letter concerning our strike, titled “Illegitimate case for striking?” Sheldon’s comments are quite off the mark about teachers at Berlitz. The union is addressing no pay increases for the past 16 years; Sheldon talks about “the next 20 years.” A base pay of ¥250,000 before taxes buys less now than it did back in the 1990s.

Does Sheldon condemn us to 36 years without a pay increase? Should we just be expected to work even more hours to keep our heads above water?

Would anyone take a job in a company his father started for the same wage as the old man got when he started? No.

Add to that, current contracts are 40 lessons a week not 30 as in 1991 for the same wage. Current per-lesson teacher rates are less also. Performance-related salary increases at yearly review were made half as much while the base rate remains the same.

Yes, Mr. Sheldon, you may think we are not entitled to expect pay increases even when the parent company is telling investors and media how well it is doing, but should we expect our wages to be cut or be asked to do even more work for the same wages when the company is making a profit and making it public knowledge?

Have you ever heard of “erosion of working conditions” and “externalization of cost”? Part of our demand is to address some of what we have lost over the years.

If someone walked up to you in 2012 and said he wants to pay you only what you earned back in 1998 and possibly a bit less, how would you feel?

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

paul kennedy