NOVA NEWS FROM THE GENERAL UNION
Rally at Osaka City Hall and Demands to the Osaka City Government.
Thursday, 1 November at 11:00AM – Meet at Yodoyabashi Stn. Exit 1 (Keihan or Midosuji lines)
We will be making demands on this day to Osaka City regarding the following points.
a. Dispatching. NOVA has/had a contract with Osaka city to provide teachers to their public schools. The city will now cancel all these contracts which will throw more people out of work. The General Union has always held that this dispatching is illegal and needs to be stopped. Dispatching is only supposed to be used as a temporary measure, not for the length of times that city governments are using it for.
Our demand: That Osaka city hire all the NOVA dispatched teachers directly.
b. National Health Insurance (KOKUMIN KENKO HOKEN). For the past two years the General Union has made demands on NOVA and the central government for enrolment of all teaching staff onto SHAKAI HOKEN (Employees Health and Pension Insurance). Because the government failed to pressure NOVA to do this, it allowed NOVA to keep up with its JMA insurance. Now, because JMA has cancelled its coverage, teachers have NO medical insurance.
In most cases, those who lose their jobs, can continue on with Shakai Hoken (paying both the employer and employee portions of the health insurance up to about 22,000YEN), or join KOKUMIN KENKO HOKEN through their city or ward offices. The problem with joining KOKUMIN KENKO HOKEN now is that since NOVA employees on JMA were not in a government approved health insurance plan (which is the duty of all residents of Japan), if you register from it now, you will be billed from the time you came to Japan or two years (which ever is shorter). Therefore, unless you are quite new (health insurance coverage is quite cheap for those in their first year), you have the potential to receive a bill for a million or more yen.
Since most NOVA teachers never knew that JMA wasn’t government approved and did not consciously try to defraud the government through non-enrollment, our demands is that Osaka city (and other municipalities) waive this back fee.
c. Public Housing: Osaka city also controls public housing and because many teachers do face eviction our demand is that the city step in and provide public housing to any teacher that faces eviction.
d. Residents’ Tax: Most companies withdraw city tax from your pay so you don’t have to worry about it, well NOVA didn’t and this means that your residents tax bill will be up on 31 October.
Our demand is that the city temporarily suspend the payment of this tax without penalty until teachers and staff have recuperated financially from this bankruptcy.
Demands to the current NOVA Trustee and the Osaka District Court:
After our demand to city hall union delegates will visit the court to submit demands to the current trustee. These demands are:
a. To guarantee that the payment of all back wages is made if a sponsor for NOVA is found.
b. To start paying wages from the 26th of October (the day the trustee was appointed). This is because no NOVA teacher or staff has been fired at this point, therefore our demand is that wages must be paid. Also, this is the only way to guarantee that teachers and staff who have not already quit stay on so that a possible sponsor may be found.
c. To immediately issue all RISHOKUHYO documents (the separation papers that you need to be able to quality for unemployment insurance) to all those who quit and to those who have already quit. This is to speed up employee claims for unemployment insurance benefits. More on unemployment insurance below.
d. To gather all contact details from teachers and staff who are quitting so that their wages can be paid in the future, or so that the wage protection insurance can cover 80% of their wages in case of bankruptcy. The union is currently doing this work. More information below.
How has the situation changed for NOVA teachers/staff and what is next?
As you can see from the information above regarding our planned rally and demands, the union is not going to sit by and wait for the one month period that the trustee wants to find a possible sponsor, we will continue our protests and demand because we know that pressure creates answers to problems.
a. Unemployment Insurance: According to the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labour all NOVA employees who resign now are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits since the company’s application for bankruptcy protection was made. If you resign now, you will not have to wait for three month’s for your benefits as a penalty for quitting because the reason for your resignation now is attributable to the employer. Until this application was made, only those who were paid late twice in a row were eligible for this treatment.
NOW, if you have worked at least six months (11 days per month for six months in a row) you are eligible for benefits. The information that we have from the ministry is that WORKING HOLIDAY VISA HOLDERS are not eligible for this insurance.
PLEASE ALWAYS CHECK THIS INFORMATION. YOU CAN DO SO IN ENGLISH AT THE OSAKA EMPLOYMENT SERVICE CENTRE FOR FOREIGNERS AT 06-6344-1135.
If you do not meet this condition, you are not eligible for benefits. If you are completely destitute at this moment and want to return home but do not have funds, we ask that you contact your embassy. The embassies have made some effort to help in this crisis, but not enough, and creating a website for their nationals that lists the union’s telephone number at the top is helpful, but does not put you back home. If you are now stranded, call you embassy.
b. Eviction: It appears that foreign personnel is now back in operation, so if you being evicted, call foreign personnel and have them arrange alternate accommodations. You are still an employee of NOVA until you are fired or quit.
c. Work permits: Our information from those attending the meeting on Monday was that it was still possible to have you work permit renewed last week. We do not know the state of affairs at the moment, but will do some research in the coming weeks about what you can do if your visa is up for renewal.
d. NOVA sponsor and wage protection insurance: The information that we have received and reconfirmed with press reports and the press in person is that NOVA will search for a sponsor for one month. If there is no sponsor, then an application will be made for bankruptcy.
If a sponsor is found, we will need information regarding the type of tie up in order to deal quickly with protection wages, working conditions, and back wages. Remember, you are not fired from NOVA at the moment and therefore our position is that your current time at home must be paid.
If a sponsor is not found and the application for bankruptcy is made, those with unpaid wages will be able to have 80% of their wages recovered through the state wage protection insurance system. Therefore, if you quit NOVA and are moving, please make sure that the receiver can contact you, for the time being, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your NAME, BRANCH, EMPLOYEE NUMBER, OLD ADDRESS, NEW ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER, AND EMAIL.
Remember, if the company goes bankrupt and the receiver cannot find you, it will be impossible to retrieve your wages. ALSO, the information we currently have shows that you must have an account open in a Japanese bank to receive your back wages.
Are you better off since the application for bankruptcy protection was made. On one hand, you have now been put off another month, and for those who can wait they can hold on to see if they still have a job. For those who can’t wait, and are eligible for insurance, they can now apply for benefits. Our biggest concern up to this point was that there would be no one left at NOVA to prepare your RISHOKUHYO (separation papers necessary for claiming your unemployment benefits), the trustee has now said that those document will be prepared and we now have someone to talk with about getting the documents done correctly and in a timely fashion.
Joining the union:
We hope that those who will be remaining in Japan join the union. It’s easy to see why a union is necessary in this industry so we do invite you all to join.
We understand that paying union dues will be difficult for NOVA teachers and staff at the moment so the General Union Executive Committee has passed the following new dues policy for NOVA teachers and staff:
Joining as of 14 October: 1,000YEN per month until you get a new job.
Joined prior to 14 October: FREE until you get a new job.
THIS POLICY WILL BE REVIEWED IN THE THREE MONTHS
You can join the union by visiting this link www.generalunion.org
If you wish to pay your union dues using paypal, please call the union office.
Please stay tuned for our next open meeting.
Also, if you have any information regarding any of the above points, please contact the union at 06-6352-9619 so that we can notify as many people as possible quickly regarding any changes or mistaken information.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
NOVA NEWS FROM THE GENERAL UNION
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