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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 27 - February 2  > Tutors form union to seek equal relationship with 'Gakken'
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2021 January 27 - February 2 [LABOR]

Tutors form union to seek equal relationship with 'Gakken'

January 27, 2021

Teachers working as independent contractors for Japan's leading tutorial school operator "Gakken" have recently formed their union, seeking an environment in which they can negotiate with Gakken on an equal footing.

Gakken has about 10,000 classrooms across Japan with 20 students per class on average. Most classes are small in size and are held in teachers' residences.

In August of 2020, Gakken introduced the digitalization of classroom operations, and accordingly asked contract teachers to pay 10,000 yen more per month as expenses for ads and an app for classroom management apart from the existing royalties. This has caused concern among teachers, "Most classes are operating in the red. An additional burden will possibly force some teachers to give up this job."

A teacher who has a relatively large classroom says that she pays Gakken an annual royalty of up to five million yen, and that the balance of payments always goes into the red after paying wages to assistant teachers.

Parents are now required to pay 200 yen a month for a mobile app to record children's attendance but could not use it due to problems with the app, which brought out complaints of fraud from many parents.

Gakken, however, never listened to teachers or parents. So, in consultation with parents, Gakken teachers established a union branch of the National Union of General Workers (Zenkoku-Ippan) affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

Their union branch demands that Gakken freeze the increase in the burden on teachers and negotiate with the union in order to make an agreement regarding the digitalization process. Gakken teachers in their effort in the union hope to promote mutual cooperation with Gakken so that Gakken classrooms can play key roles in each community in supporting children's sound development.

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