June 4

Interac Turns a Corner in Negotiations With Tozen Union



To recap: real wages for teachers at Interac, Japan’s largest dispatch company for English teachers, have been going down for more than fifteen years. In recent years it has reached the point where employees are struggling to afford basic necessities. In 2019, after two previous tussles with Interac, employees at Tozen Union called them back to the negotiating table.


Things seemed to go well at first, but Interac consistently refused a basic wage increase. In the end, we were forced to go on strike. In retaliation, Interac refused to sign agreements that were all but settled and began harassing our members, and we have had to sue them at Tokyo Labor Commission.


Now, after three years of striking and more than four years of negotiations, Interac have finally started moving towards a settlement.


So far, we have had six hearings at the Labor Commission. Our original claim was for company financial data. Interac said they couldn’t afford to raise our pay, and we asked them to prove it—this is standard practice in Japan. They shared financial data once in 2019, for one of their subsidiaries, which showed they were doing exceptionally well financially—yet they still refused to raise our pay. Because of this and many other issues, we entered dispute and began striking.


Interac then refused any further financial disclosures, claiming it would violate Tokyo Stock Exchange’s rules against insider trading. We couldn’t find any relevant clauses in the regulations, so we asked management to point them out—they could not. So, we went to the Labor Commission and sued them for bad faith negotiation: by law, if they refuse to meet a union demand, they have to give a good reason why. Disclosing financial data to unions is common in these situations.


While our case is being heard, the commissioners have made it clear that they expect us to continue to attempt to settle our issues. Interac was instructed to negotiate specifically over financial disclosures. However, when we got back around the table they refused, saying only, “We’ll discuss it at the Labor Commission.”

東京労働委員会は、私たちの訴訟が審理されている間においても、インタラックと労組が引き続き問題の解決を試みる交渉をすることを期待する明言している。インタラックは、特に財務情報開示について交渉するよう指示を受けたにも関わらず、交渉の場になると「労働委員会で話し合う 」と言い、拒否し続けた。

We were therefore forced to add this to our case. We believe this is a clear instance of Interac breaking trade union law.


By this point, Interac had begun flagrantly violating our rights left and right, harassing us at work and at home, even finding a way to fire one of our members. In each instance, we filed an additional claim with the Commission.


And then something interesting happened. After months of striking and suing, this April 12th Interac offered to disclose the finances of their subsidiaries that employ our members. In return, they asked us to withdraw our original claim for financial disclosure and the new claim for refusal to negotiate.


We told Interac that we would consider their proposal, but that we’re hoping to settle the entire case, not just parts of it. We very much want to settle everything with Interac. Our next hearing will be on June 13th, 2023. Check back then to see how it went!



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