What is the General Union?
We are a legally registered labor union in Japan which is open to all nationalities. Formed in 1991, we have built a strong reputation by protecting workers' rights and improving working conditions. The General Union is a group of workers who support each other for the benefit of all. Please note that we are not a cheap legal service, and that you need to join the Union (see below) if you wish to receive its help and advice.
The General Union belongs to a confederation of labor unions called Zenrokyo (National Trade Union Council). Because of our affiliation to Zenrokyo, we receive support from Japanese workers in other unions.
We have sister unions in Tokyo and Fukuoka.
Who can join the General Union?
The majority of our members are teachers and staff at conversation schools, junior and senior high schools, universities, and similar workplaces. However, our union is open to any full or part-time worker in Japan of any nationality.
How can the General Union help me and my co-workers?
By helping you and your co-workers to form and run a union branch at your school or company. When you and your co-workers are ready, experienced Japanese and foreign members of the General Union will assist you in negotiating collective agreements with your company. Our experience shows that when people join together, they can win significant improvements.
Could I lose my job if I join?
Most companies are reluctant to pick a fight with a strong union. Since the General Union was formed, we have had a small number of cases involving the firing or non-renewal of union members. Almost all of these have resulted in reinstatement or a satisfactory settlement. On the other hand, we regularly receive calls from non-union members who have been fired or whose contracts have not been renewed. An employer can fire non-union workers for complaining about their pay and conditions. A union member whose union raises the same issues in negotiations is protected by Article 28 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the Trade Union Law.
How much are union dues?
Union dues are inexpensive at 36,000 yen per year. This is 1% of base salary for a member earning 300,000 yen per month. The average union dues in Japan are 1.75% of base salary. In special circumstances, for example if you are suffering financial hardship, the union can waive or reduce the dues. Dues are not refundable.
How do I join the General Union?
Simple! Contact us by phone or e-mail, or join through our web site (details below).
Helping each other
We encourage all members to help other union members regardless of their workplace or the industry in which they work. Our union is strong because we represent workers in a whole industry rather than in just one workplace. If you work at more than one company, you can still be a union member, and your membership remains valid if you change your job.
Making it better for everyone
The General Union has a reputation for winning. We've won paid holidays according to the law, the end of contract limits, reversal of unfair dismissals, payment of unpaid wages and overtime, and pay increases. If you're interested in making your workplace a better place for teachers, staff, and students then you should call the union and find out how to make this possible.
What is a fair deal?
Fairness doesn't mean just following the minimum standards in the law. The law does not require an employer to give pay rises and the minimum wage in Japan is less than 700 yen an hour. On the other hand, without you and your co-workers, your company couldn't exist. You have a right to a fair share and a say in what happens at your workplace. The General Union considers all of the following to be reasonable demands: