Over 90% of foreign workers are on contingent employment, temporary contracts.
This means the employer can simply refuse to renew the contract -- no reason required.
In 2013 the law was changed to give workers the right to switch to permanent employment
after five years. Sounds like more job security.
Two problems: One is that the clock started ticking April 1, 2013 - the five-year rule was not
grandfathered back - so we can't use the rule until 2018. The second is that many employers, and universities in particular, have taken measures to fire everyone before the day of reckoning in 2018.
They now only advertise jobs for up to five years. This means the new law has reduced, not elevated,
job security. The only way to fight this and to fight for increased job security is a large labor union movement. Only a powerful focused labor movement can fight for permanent employment for all,
through workplace solidarity.
I will discuss the successes and failures of my labor union then take questions.
Louis Carlet is the general secretary and founder of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union ("Tozen"), a union representing both Japanese and migrant workers, including foreign language teachers, bank and newspaper workers. Tozen is the only foreign-led amalgamated union (godo roso) in Japan.
Carlet is from the United States and moved to Japan in the early 1990s, originally working as a translator for a Japanese newspaper, called Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and subsequently leaving that position to become a full-time paid trade union organizer. He was the first foreign full-time unionist ever in Japan (excepting so-called zainichi who are ethnically Korean but born and raised in Japan). He has acted as an adviser to English instructors and others with work-related problems through the Japan Times.