The court case between Berlitz and its workers in Japan continues. Key activists in a strike of over just under a year ago wait to see if the courts uphold a vicious and spiteful claim for damages against them brought by the employer for loss of earnings. There have been attempts to remove union members from the yearly miserly automatic pay rise, workers have been thrown off the pension scheme and now Berlitz are introducing a new compulsory dress code. Our hearts go out to those who are fighting for the rest of us in demanding decent pay and the right to be in a trade union. It is too early to draw the lessons from this dispute but surely management, with their declining student numbers, know they will never be clear winners in Japan. They were always be remembered as the school which treats their teachers with such disrespect and loathing, the same teachers who are appreciated by students for their patience, support and professionalism within the classroom.
If Berlitz are prepared to sacrifice their profits in Japan so as to push down workers’ rights and increase profits elsewhere then messages of support from Berlitz Germany are not enough, nor sympathetic groans from fellow teachers in other academies in Japan, they urgently need solidarity action and they need it now.