Interac North – Timeline of events

late 2018 / early 2019:

Interac North Sapporo branch prepares to change from a Gyomu Itaku contract to a Haken contract. The manager at the time explains what will be changing and what will stay the same. Many ALTs are left with the impression that very little would be affected. One ALT specifically asks “Will we still get to leave school once classes are finished?” to which the IM replied “Yes. Just call the office like always.”

May 2019:

The first few weeks of the new contract are over. Employees realise that some things have changed. Monthly take-home pay is reduced and working hours have increased. The board of education faxes all schools to prohibit ALTs from leaving school when classes are finished. The manager’s inbox is flooded with complaints. An emergency meeting is held wherein the manager attempts to explain. Some attendees report that he used screenshots from a private Facebook group. Some ALTs contact unions.

June – September 2019:

ALTs request a meeting with management to discuss conditions. It becomes apparent that the manager lacks the willingness and authority to meaningfully speak on this topic. The branch manager is requested.

The branch manager is accompanied by a member of staff from Tokyo (head office) who attempts to steer the conversation away from salary. Nothing is resolved. ALTs request a meeting with the president.

An unofficial survey is created to identify problems and emphasise how common they are (“If we get one complaint, it means there are others feeling the same thing” – Head office staff)

In the meantime, another meeting is attended by the head of HR for Link Interac. He is unwilling to discuss salary but appears to be open to suggestions for other areas such as training.

Survey results are collected and presented to the company president alongside personal letters addressed to him written by ALTs. This is the last time ALTs hear from the president. To this day, he still doesn’t respond to emails.*

December 2019:

ALTs make the news. The branch manager mentions in passing that it has harmed the company’s reputation.

Early 2020:

COVID 19 forces schools to close early. The lockdown lasts until spring. ALTs work from home.

Spring 2020:

The “equal work for equal pay” law is introduced on April 1st allowing ALTs to qualify for better paying positions. Interac North sets the deadline to sign contracts as March 31st. A new school year begins.

Summer 2020:

Hokkaido ALT Union is established and begins collective bargaining with Interac North. Representatives from Tokyo blame the Boards of Education for many of the issues.

Winter 2020:

Hokkaido ALT Union planned to speak directly with the Sapporo Board of Education to verify what was said. The board of Education refused to co-operate. Several unions met with MEXT. MEXT denied accountability.

January 2021:

The Board of Education continues to refuse to meet with the union. The SBI program (part time work provided by the company) is put on hold during negotiations regarding labour agreements.

Spring 2021:

Hokkaido ALT Union is interviewed by NHK. Sapporo board of Education continues to avoid meeting us.

June 2021:

The union pursues the company president once more. He gives a disappointing response.

Autumn 2021:

One ALT is interviewed by the local news. Hokkaido ALT Union officially begins its collaboration with Tozen.

November 2021:

Hokkaido ALT Union holds a demonstration on the streets of Sapporo city.

December 2021:

Hokkaido ALT Union visits the Labor Standards office and makes a report.

March 2022:

‘If you sign today, we can guarantee your position for next year within Sapporo city. If you do not sign today then your position cannot be guaranteed.’

April 2022:

A new school year begins. Sapporo Junior High School ALTs are given a record low number of working days in March.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.