Advice for teachers

Union support

“The general union and Nambu decided on a policy that that we won’t take new members if Nova goes bankrupt. What we will have is a question-and-answer site — we’ll give all the information necessary to employees to get the government subsidy for unpaid wages, and we’ll hold a one-time “setsumeikai” (meeting) for any employee who wants to come. If it goes bankrupt, we will shut the doors on the Nova union, but of course they’re welcome to join Nambu separately.

“As for Nova members, we’ll be actively pursuing all their wages, not just the 80 percent guaranteed by the government. If Nova has any assets left, in general employees get first dibs, so we’ll be fighting for that.” (Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu)

Unpaid wages

“If there’s unpaid wages, we would have to go to the Labor Standards Office or a court and force (Nova) into paying whatever they have and then eventually when they can’t — when the court forces them to pay and they don’t have any money to pay — then it could be a long, drawn-out process. In the meantime, a lot of foreigners may not be able to stay in Japan to fight, so at least our union members, even if they have to leave the country, we’ll continue to fight for them.” (Louis Carlet)

Accommodation

“Even if the owner/the landlord/the agency is screaming at you to get out, you don’t have to leave — just keep paying your rent. If the company was supposed to be paying the rent and they haven’t, sue the company for fraud or tell the agency: ‘Look, the company’s supposed to be paying, and I’ve already paid the company.’ You have a right of residency, and anyone who wanted to get you out is going to have to get a court order to do it.”

(Bob Tench, Nova union vice president)

Immigration

“Your company does not sponsor your visa, even though a lot of companies say so: There is no formal relationship between an employer and the immigration office. When you go to renew your visa at the immigration office, you take your certificate of insurance, your employment contract and your tax-paid certificate. Those are the documents you need — that’s it, and your employer is obliged to provide you with those, for whatever reason, on request, within 24 hours.”

“If you think (bankruptcy is) gonna happen and, for example, your visa is coming up for renewal in one or two months, apply for a renewal now and present the documents that you have. You can ask for a new certificate of insurance, tax certificate and your current contract, which has an expiry date coming up, and present that to the immigration office saying: ‘I’m expecting to be renewed,’ and you get your visa renewed. All you have to do is say something like, ‘I’m thinking of taking a holiday at the time of renewal, so I need to renew now,’ because while your visa renewal is in you’re not allowed to leave the country, so it’s a perfectly valid excuse. . . . I would advise anyone to do that if they’re in that situation.” (Bob Tench)

Redundancies

“The union would fight every redundancy and under Japanese law there are quite serious restrictions about when redundancies may be made — certain stringent conditions have to be met by the company and of course the union knows the legal ins and outs of that, so of course the union would fight tooth and nail to make sure that all those conditions were properly met, and if they weren’t then we take the company to court.” (Bob Tench)

Unemployment insurance

“It’s a really complicated formula but there’s a limit — roughly speaking, teachers will get ¥200,000 a month. It’s not really a percentage of salary — if it’s a high salary you wouldn’t get 80 percent of that. You would get it for a certain number of months depending on your age and how long you’ve been enrolled in employment. The minimum is three months and you must get it before one year after dismissal, and if you resign you can’t get it for the first three months.”

“If (Nova) goes bankrupt, (employees) will be fired officially, dismissed by the receiver, and if they’re fired they can get unemployment insurance right away, if you’re in Japan and if you have a work visa, so if they’re in that situation that’s OK.” (Louis Carlet) (B.S.)