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May 13, 2005

Unions Killing the Eikaiwa Golden Goose?

The Japan Today web site today carries a "commentary" on two teachers' unions and their efforts to have the government investigate the eikaiwa industry for failing to enroll teachers in compulsory insurance and pension schemes. The article, by Angela Smyth, follows a recent feature in the Japan Times about the issue. Smyth criticizes the unions, saying they should have left the situation alone. She cites the benefits of taking out private health insurance rather than public, though she fails to mention that, in the case of major eikaiwa chain Nova, the insurance firm in question is also owned by same company. It is debatable whether the current investigation of Nova will indeed lead to an increased ¥1 billion in expenses for the firm and whether that would lead to job losses and/or pay cuts for teachers. But Smyth believes that the "militant" unions are out to "punish" the big schools, rather than looking out for the best interests of the teachers they represent, adding that they have "killed...the Golden Goose." Smyth's affiliations are not mentioned.Union crusade bad for foreign employees

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