Interac North Collective Bargaining 24/05/2022

On Tuesday evening we concluded our most recent session of Collective Bargaining with Interac North. This session was a milestone as it was the twentieth session since bargaining began in September 2020.
Hokkaido ALT Union was represented by Sapporo General Union.
Interac North was represented by Link Interac.

Here is a summary of what was discussed:

1. Device use in schools

The first topic we discussed was the use of devices such as tablets and computers in school. The Interac representatives immediately gave their stance that the company is not considering providing devices to ALTs as it is not a company concern. The company representatives also told us that they had heard of issues with network connections in the past. For example, when an employee was not able to attend an online meeting due to not having access to the Internet, the company paid for transportation so that the employee could attend the meeting in person.

One union member explained that, of their two assigned schools, only one provided a device.
The company replied that in that case, the school should call the company and solve the issue.
It seemed as though the company representatives were suggesting that ALTs are not expected to bring their own devices to work. However, many ALTs feel that it is necessary to have access to a device at work.

Another union member claimed that they attempted to ask if the company would provide devices in the past during online training. This person added that each time they tried to do so, a senior employee would intervene and answer on behalf of the manager. In the process, damaging communication within the branch.

Towards the end of this topic, Interac representatives mentioned that some Boards of Education forbid ALTs from bringing personal devices to schools. One example given was that it may be a security risk.
The company clarified that, if ALTs do bring their personal devices, the company cannot be responsible for the cost of repair, maintenance, or upgrade. The official company stance is that ALTs should NOT be using personal devices.
On the contrary, several Union members claim to have been encouraged by managers in the past to provide their own device. The answer remains unclear.

The union requested that the company representatives enquire with the Sapporo Board of Education to determine whether or not all schools should provide devices to ALTs.

2. Inaccuracies in the Company’s response

Last month, the Union asked for an official response in writing to several issues. One issue was: “Why were Union members not given a Head Teacher position?”
The company representatives explained that one Union member was late to his interview, and being on time is an important skill for a Head Teacher to have.
As for the other members, the company explained that they were “underqualified”. The Union asked for an explanation of what the company considers “qualified”. Important qualities for a candidate were said to be “Skills, Understanding of the position, and Vision.”
The company representatives also mentioned two points:
1. To be able to lead and manage
2. To be serious and dedicated to the position
Union members who attended a seminar for the Head Teacher position several months ago did not recall those terms being mentioned.

In April, it was revealed that the Sapporo branch had not hired any new Head Teachers despite interviewing several candidates. Union members were confused at their actions and asked for an explanation. Interac representatives explained that it may have been due to financial issues. It was revealed that Interac North did make a profit in 2021 but did not reach their profit target.
As well as that, it was revealed that Interac North did not “pick up” any additional contracts, and that the number of ALTs remained roughly the same. Therefore there was no need for additional Head Teachers.

3. Warning letters

One Union member was issued six warning letters in March. The company representatives attempted to use these as a reason to not employ him for the school year beginning 2022. The Union believes that the warning letters were issued in retaliation to unrelated actions. The company had given this Union member 14 days to send a defence, but due to a misunderstanding, it arrived late.
The company agreed to withdraw one warning, but refused to withdraw the others. The Union asked for a Labor Management Agreement to ensure that both sides have reached an agreement.
Regardless of their reasons, the Union considers this Power Harassment.

At this point we ran out of time. Some issues will be followed up via email.
As homework, the company representatives were given three tasks:
1. To check whether or not Interac negotiated with BOEs to provide ALTs with devices.
2. Why were the same Head Teachers rehired when the company advertised for new ones?
3. What financial issues caused the confusion regarding the new, increased amount of Head Teacher positions?

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