Sexual harassment at Gaba?

Man. What the hell? 

I was browsing through the General Union’s website recently, and came across this article about sexual harassment. It talks about the author being sexually harassed by clients while working at an eikaiwa that sounds a lot like Gaba, although it isn’t named. They mention “instructors” and “booths”, which sounds like Gaba to me.

I’ve also heard of similar things happening and not really being dealt with properly, but people being pressured to have sex, being followed outside of work, and the other things mentioned in the article are really awful. Regardless of whether it is Gaba or one of the other eikaiwas, if those things are going on, they should get stopped as soon as possible.

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March 20, 2014 at 5:37 am Leave a comment

General Union sign agreement with Gaba, recruit new members

I haven’t had time to update this blog recently, but after receiving a leaflet from the general union I wanted to post it up for people to see. I have been given a few union leaflets before, but this one definitely looks more professional. It has some interesting news too – apparently the union and Gaba signed some kind of agreement in in April. I didn’t notice anything changing at my ls so I am not sure what the details are, but apparently both sides have withdrawn legal cases against each other. It also talked about how the general union is part of a much bigger union called “Zenrokyo” which has more than 100,000 members all over Japan. I didn’t know that, I thought the union was very small.

The leaflet also mentioned some improvements that the union was responsible for at other places. I hadn’t realized they were working at so many other places. It seems they also have some new members too. The instructor I got the leaflet from said that the union recently had negotiations with the company and are trying to get some improvements for us. We’ll see what happens but that sounds a lot more promising that what I’ve heard before. It said the union wants to keep flexibility, which is good to hear.

June 4, 2012 at 2:50 am 3 comments

A new president

Gaba apparently has a new president – Takayuki Masuda. Until last week he was the Vice President of Gaba. He comes from Nichii Gakkan, the new owners. Bruce Anderson lasted less than four months in the post of president. And there was no advance notice like there was when Bruce Anderson was to take over from Kenji Kamiyama back in December. It is far from clear what this means, but it is worth knowing, and the fact Gaba didn’t make any announcement at all so far to instructors is curious. I imagine it is the new owners more firmly taking control, but beyond that I don’t know.

Here is the Japanese press release from Gaba’s website with a rough translation. It is taken from http://www.gaba.co.jp/static/20120329.pdf

当社は、平成24年3月29日付け定時株主総会後に開催された取締役会において、代表取締役の役職変更 を決議いたしました。また、その他の役員にも異動が生じましたので合わせてお知らせいたします。

After the shareholders meeting a board of directors meeting was held, at which the president was changed, and other changes were made.

1.代表取締役の役職変更 (平成24年3月29日付) 新役職名 氏名 旧役職名

代表取締役社長 増田 崇之

Takayuki Masuda became president and representative director.

2.代表取締役の退任 (平成24年3月29日付) 旧役職名 氏 名

代表取締役社長 ブルース・アンダーソン

Bruce Anderson retires as representative director and president.

3.監査役の退任・辞任 (平成24年3月29日付)

代表取締役副社長

(異動の理由) 総会終結の時もって退任 [任期満了]

(異動の理由)

総会終結の時もって退任 [任期満了] 辞任

旧役職名

監査役(社外) 監査役(社外)

氏 名

加藤 勝也

大石 豊

Auditors Katsuya Kato and Yutaka Oishii retire.

以上により、当社役員の構成は以下のとおりとなりました。(平成24年3月29日 現在)

So, on March 29 2012 the officers of the company are as follows:

代表取締役社長 増田 崇之

President and representative director

Takayuki Masuda

取締役 青柳 大介

Board member/director

Daisuke Aoiyagi

取締役 工藤 美穂子

Board member/director

Mihoko Kudou

取締役(社外) 寺田 明彦

Board member (outside the company) Akihiko Terada

監査役(社外) 寺田剛

Board member (outside) : Tsuyoshi Terada

監査役(社外) 森信介

Board member (outside) : Nobusuke Mori

監査役(社外) 矢野 俊彦

Auditor: Toshihiko Yano

監査役(社外) 粟田 正廣

Auditor: Masahiro Awata/Awada

監査役(社外) 乙丸 秀次

Auditor: Hidetsugu(?) Shuji(?) Otoma

April 3, 2012 at 5:54 am 8 comments

Gaba re-hires Francis Strange

Wow. According to an article on the General Union’s website from last month Gaba re-hired Francis Strange, the union leader who they fired last November. I don’t think that this has ever happened before – if Gaba decides to get rid of you, you are gone. No severance pay, no completion bonus, and definitely no “thank you”.

The newspaper articles I posted about previously were mostly about the union’s lack of progress and complaints about the way things work at the company, and despite the efforts to paint what they were doing in the best possible light, most of the articles on their website were also. Complaining about the poor conditions, detailing the various cases they lodged with the government to try to get improvements, etc. In reality nothing changed at the LS from all those filings with the government. Still no transport pay, debeltings continued unabated, and from what I can tell the company still refused to talk to the union. Gaba also suing the government, the union and then firing the leader of the union branch indicated the company wasn’t very interested in changing anything.

Now they re-hire him, which is a pretty big thing. As far as I can see, it is the first concrete thing that the union has managed to achieve since they started organizing in 2007. The union’s website talks about them negotiating with new owners Nichii Gakkan and Gaba and getting them to drop their lawsuits and then rehire Strange. I don’t know what to think about this other than the new owners are the main factor. It was widely known that the old owners Daiwa just wanted to get away from Gaba as soon as possible. Because of this, I doubt they wanted to change anything. But Nichii Gakkan paid $127 million for Gaba, so I guess they are in for the long haul.

I don’t know what this means long term, but some type of a change has taken place. I’ll be interested to see what other sort of changes this heralds.

March 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm 6 comments

Gaba makes the news – again

Das booth: A Gaba instructor teaches an early morning English lesson at a learning studio in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. KYODO PHOTO

Gaba’s less than stellar working conditions have made the paper again. The Japan Times ran a story last year about conditions at Gaba and the General Union’s efforts to get the company to improve things. Last year’s article talked about how the company was ignoring the union, but yesterday’s article included the update that the company had sued the union for 58 million yen, and that the case had just been thrown out of court. It also mentioned that the Gaba had sued the government because the company was unhappy with a recognition that instructors were employees, and that the company had lost and appealed several times.

Gaba’s slogan is “Helping people achieve their most audacious life goals”. I suppose the company itself has the “audacious life goal” of suing everyone it comes into contact with?

Union-busting aside, the article also quoted a couple of instructors who had bad experiences with Gaba. One seemed to have a nightmarish experience of few bookings and a lot of harassment from management, memorably described his time at Gaba: “I would be sitting around in a booth — they would call it a booth, but I would call it essentially a prison cell — and you are expected to sit there until something falls off the cart,” he says.

I have never experienced this, but I have seen instructors who have their visa sponsored by Gaba and who are not popular enough with students, especially belt A instructors earning the princely sum of 1500 yen per lesson going through similar situations, staying at the LS all day for not enough lessons. And from what I’ve seen this is not very good for people’s mental health. It is easy to just blame such instructors for their own predicament, but on the other hand the company hires people knowing the instructor will not be able to afford to support themselves if they aren’t popular, and if the company fires them there is no cost to Gaba.

Another Gaba instructor who spoke to the paper had a nasty time with her manager forcing her to do early lessons she didn’t want, refusing to open the lesson slots she did want to do, and telling her to leave and go to another LS if she didn’t want to do what he said. This must be some form of “instructor flexibility” that I was not previously familiar with. I’ve heard of these kind of things happening but no one ever went public with it before. The instructor wound up quitting after a few months of this treatment. Gaba does go through staff at a tremendous rate, and they seem not to care.

There was also an interview with a union representative who looked forward to a better situation in the future now that Nichii Gakkan had bought the company and the management had changed. I think he might be looking through rose-tinted glasses, but you’re welcome to read the article for yourself and decide.

Gaba ‘contractor’ status under fire from staff, courts by Simon Scott, Japan Times December 20 2011

December 21, 2011 at 3:12 am 15 comments

New Kids On The Block at Gaba

This Monday, December 5th 2011, the final change took place and Gaba is now a subsidiary of Nichii Gakkan. Oddly enough, this is almost exactly 5 years after Gaba went public, back on December 1st 2006. The former CEO Kenji Kamiyama is gone, replaced by Bruce Anderson, and there have been some changes publicized by Gaba in a press release. The Japanese comes from the press release, the translation is mine. The English biographical information comes from the Financial Times website:

http://www.gaba.co.jp/static/20111205.pdf

http://markets.ft.com/research/Markets/Tearsheets/Directors-and-dealings?s=9792:TYO

=============================================================================================

取締役および監査役の選任に関するお知らせ

Appointment of directors and auditors

当社は、平成23年12月5日開催の臨時株主総会および総会後に開催された取締役会において、新たに 取締役および監査役が選任され就任致しました。

At its board meeting held after the extraordinary general meeting held on December 5th 2011 the following were appointed:

これにより、当社取締役および監査役の構成は、以下のとおりとなりましたのでお知らせいたします。

The directors and auditors are as follows.

代表取締役副社長  増田 崇之(新任)

Representative director, Vice President: Takayuki Masuda

46 years old, Mr. Takayuki Masuda has been serving as Managing Director and Chief Director of Education Business in NICHII GAKKAN COMPANY since April 2011. He joined the Company in July 1999 and served as Manager of Business Planning in Main Business Planning Unit. He has been a company officer since 2008.

取締役 (管理部門担当) 青柳 大介 (新任)

Board member(administration) : Daisuke Aoyagi

Was already executive officer in charge of administration.

取締役(人事部門担当) 工藤 美穂子(新任)

Board member (personnel) : Mihoko Kudou

Was already executive officer in charge of personnel

取締役(社外) 寺田 明彦(新任)

Board member (outside the company) Akihiko Terada

Mr. Akihiko Terada has been serving as Chairman of the Board and Representative Director in NICHII GAKKAN COMPANY, as well as Chairman of the Board in a subsidiary and President and Representative Director in other two subsidiaries, since May 2010. He is also working for other companeis. He established the Company in August 1973 and served as President.

取締役(社外) 寺田 剛(新任)

Board member (outside) : Tsuyoshi Terada

38 years old, Mr. Tsuyoshi Terada has been serving as Director of International Business and Director in NICHII GAKKAN COMPANY since October 1, 2011. He joined the Company in May 2003 and used to serve as Director of Public Relations, Chief Director of Public Relations and Director of International Business.

取締役(社外) 森 信介(新任)

Board member (outside) : Nobusuke Mori

47 years old. Mr. Shinsuke Mori has been serving as Senior Managing Director and Chief Director of Business Planning of NICHII GAKKAN COMPANY since April 2011. He joined the Company in March 1998. His previous titles include Chief Director of Public Relation, Manager of President’s Office, Manager of Public Relations Office, Chief Director of Business Planning, Manager of Business Planning Office and Executive Officer in the Company.

常勤監査役(社外) 矢野 俊彦(新任)

Auditor: Toshihiko Yano

監査役(社外) 加藤 勝也

Auditor: Katsuya Kato

監査役(社外) 粟田 正廣

Auditor: Masahiro Awata/Awada

監査役(社外) 大石 豊(新任)

Auditor: Tomi(?) Yutaka(?) Oishi

監査役(社外) 乙丸 秀次(新任)

Auditor: Hidetsugu(?) Shuji(?) Otoma

=============================================================================================

It seems like there are a number of new faces. Bruce Anderson, Daisuke Aoyagi, and Mihiko Kudou seem to be the only people left over from the previous regime, the rest seem to be either from Nichii Gakkan or bought in by them. This isn’t surprising, but it does make me wonder what changes are on the horizon.

December 7, 2011 at 4:43 am 1 comment

Gaba employment system changing?

In August I wrote about the take over bid for Gaba from Nichii Gakkan. The TOB has happened and Gaba has been sold by Daiwa to Nichii Gakkan. Kenji Kamiyama, the cost-cutting CEO has done his work and is leaving. Bruce Anderson is taking over from him. In the booth at Gaba everything seems the same.

Or is it? A lot of people have been emailing the jobs advertised on gaijinpot and daijob recently. They are under the Nichii Gakkan name, but they look like they are for Gaba.

First, the Gaijinpot ad, from November 17 2011:

https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/index/view/job_id/47586/lang/en

It offers a “negotiable” salary of 265,000 per month, and a contract of one year. Nothing about Gaba’s flexible schedule or a per lesson rate. It offers various locations in Kanto. Duty #1 is “Teaching lesson effectively and offering attractive lesson for the students to come regularly”. This sounds like the Gaba system to me. Duty #5 is “Being loyal and cooperative to the employer.” That is interesting because everything Gaba does usually avoids the word employer and employee, because in their world, instructors are independent contractors with no rights.

Unlike the usual Gaba gyomu itaku (subcontractor) contract, the gaijinpot job listing offers some benefits:

– Transportation fee provided – Health insurance – Contract completion bonus

Work hours: Between 7am and 10pm (total 35 hours a week )

The working hours seem to match Gaba’s opening hours, although Gaba also has a 10pm-10:40 lesson. I wonder why they finish at 10pm? Well, according to the website of the General Union (currently involved in a fight with Gaba that has been going on for years and years) work after 10pm has to be paid at a rate of 135%. Perhaps Nichii Gakkan doesn’t want to pay this rate, so will not offer lessons at that time?

http://www.generalunion.org/law/lsl.htm#19

Okay, next is the daijob ad from November 15 2011:

http://www.daijob.com/en/jobs/detail/370636

This is for a “Japanese English Instructor”, so it lists a TOEIC score requirement (800 or above), and lists a 40 hour work week. The base salary is 205,000 yen per month. More hours for less money compared to the gaijinpot job listing for foreigners doesn’t seem fair. It lists the employer as Nichii Gakkan, but says the instructor will be a secondee for a subsidiary language company, and lists the recruiting areas as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, all areas where Gaba has learning studios.

That all sounds like Gaba, and if that wasn’t enough, there is a picture on the job ad that shows a Japanese woman and white man inside what looks like a Gaba booth. It seems these jobs are advertising for Gaba positions.

So, what does this mean for Gaba instructors? Will we all get recognized as employees now? Will we get to chose between being an itaku with flexibility or a salaried employee with none? Will red lessons get taken from Gaba itaku instructors and given to these direct Nichii Gakkan hires? The company has long refused to pay any kinds of benefits to instructors, claiming that we are contractors, but can they continue that when there are direct hires doing exactly the same job yet classified as employees with benefits?

I don’t know, but Gaijinpot job lists the work start date as January 2012, so I guess we will find out soon enough.

November 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm 10 comments

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