The Osaka District Court ruled Wednesday that a city ordinance banning labor unions from using public facilities such as school buildings for meetings was illegal and unconstitutional, ordering the city to pay a union around ¥417,000 in compensation.

The ruling is a defeat for the strongly anti-union Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who supported the 2012 ordinance.

The mayor, his Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) party, and their conservative corporate backers, many of whom favor the privatization of Osaka’s public schools, have long battled against the teachers’ union.

Municipal educators have used public schools for annual academic meetings for 40 years, but applications in 2012 and 2013 to use two area schools were rejected by school authorities.

“To date, there had been nothing to hinder the use of schools for educational research meetings and no proof of an inappropriate relationship between Osaka city and the Osaka teachers union. The rejection by the school principals oversteps their discretionary authority and is illegal,” presiding judge Kenji Nakagaito wrote in his decision.

Yukiyoshi Inada, head of the city teachers’ labor union, said that the ruling “recognizes the importance of educational research gatherings, and declares the Osaka city labor ordinance unconstitutional and illegal. It sufficiently takes into account the thoughts of teachers on the front lines.”

The court blamed Hashimoto. It said that by his anti-union statements and by setting up such an ordinance he had knowingly created the problem and that his actions had violated Article 28 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively.

“It’s clear that the mayor recognized the right to assembly on the part of the teachers was being violated, and we’re forced to say that was his intent,” the ruling said.

The Osaka District Court issued a similar ruling in September regarding the city’s decision to order municipal government workers’ unions to move their office out of the municipal government building. The city is appealing that case in that case.

Information from Kyodo added