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Is AEON a cult?
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 1307
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rslrunner,

Two years ago, someone might have taken an interest in your grievance. A few weeks or months, and it looks like an agenda. Two years of complaining, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will take you seriously. You've negated any credibility and are now in the realm of "he's not mentally stable - no wonder AEON got rid of him!".

Sorry. I get that you think that you somehow still sound reasonable (that's the nature of the beast), but a counselor can help bring you back to reality, I hope.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1490
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffy,

From what I've read, and learned in discussions with union representatives, the labour relations office will contact the employer in the event that they identify an "unfair labour practice", brought to their attention by an employee.

The labour relations officers are your advocates.

You mention the contract in Japanese. Every contract I sign, I check myself with a Japanese literate friend before I sign. Some dodgy contracts have had illegal clauses in them, so I either declined to sign, or disregarded the dodgy bits.

All the sources I read say the employer is obligated by law to provide work rules that employees understand, i.e., English translation of the contract and work rules in a handbook. You put your seals on the Japanese contract.

It's on you to understand what is in the contract you put your seal on, right?
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't recall ever being shown the Japanese version of an employment contract (or if it was around there probably wouldn't have been sufficient time granted to really look at it and compare key clauses to the English version. I can read enough kanji that I'd be able to compare parallel texts certainly). But yeah I must've signed a few in my time even if I don't remember doing so LOL. The illegal clauses (if one knows the Labor Laws) are usually obvious enough in just the English versions. I wonder with the shadier companies if they'd just detach the signed last sheet and put a whole load of suitably differing ones on top if it came to court. But it'd probably be hard to get to that point without being a paid-up union member or something in advance of any potential dispute. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Smile

Anyway the point I was trying to make is that if the Japanese contract weren't identical with the English version (allowing for slight variance in translation), I don't see why that alone shouldn't serve as a basis for ruling in the employee's favour. Not everyone can read Japanese or have Japanese friends on hand to look things over prior to signing, and allowing the Japanese version to take precedence seems to suggest that it can differ from the English version no questions asked. It just seems a little odd or off IMHO. Surely the law should be that the contracts be as identical as possible and the English version given equal weight, and that companies hiring foreigners should have to take extra care in this regard. Still, if they did that then they'd actually be granting the rights up front no question wouldn't they! Languages can be a great (useful) barrier. Perhaps the Japanese government could produce model contracts and insist that companies use and follow them or very similar. Required clauses, for example. But perhaps that's what the Labor Laws are meant to be or compensate for.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1490
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffy, did you in fact sign/hanko a contract that was written in English?

There appears to be no source indicating that a contract must be in Japanese. In fact, a verbal contract in Japan is also binding. Again, no specifics are indicated for language. It looks like whichever language it is written in, if you fix your seal on it, it's binding.

The labour contract is superceded by the labour law. In other words, the employer cannot contract you with less than what is provided in the labour law.

See http://www.generalunion.org/law/lsl#01
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I definitely recall signing at least English versions, and sometimes noticing clauses that basically said the Japanese version of the contract would take precedent in the case of any dispute. Which means that I must've also signed a J version at least sometimes, and that it might, if push came to shove into court, subtly or not-so-subtly differ. But hey, that's all past history and I never felt strongly enough about anything to take it to court. A few calm but subtly menacing words and the prospect of my 6'3" 220 lb frame visiting the office usually sorted out most pay shortchangings and petty everyday run-of-the-dispatch-mill stuff like that. Laughing Cool Smile

But employers flout the labor laws all the time it seems. There are loopholes. Hence my loopiness. Razz
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1490
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't have to threaten to get an employer to comply. Just know what your rights are, and be clear with your employer that you know what they are.

I've mentioned before that my employer verbally offered overtime which didn't appear on the next pay. I walked into the branch office, told them I would leave with the owed overtime, and they produced it. On receiving it, I gave notice and moved on to a more responsible employer.

I'm tiny, by the way.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may not have had to subtly threaten employers Liz, but anyone who's unfortunately worked for some of the shonkier outfits (who sometimes forget to pay at all - or suddenly deduct unreasonably large sums from any debts one may have unavoidably accrued with them, thanks to the always indirect, back-dated pay - and certainly wouldn't want to pay for any overtime!) may have few other options come hand-to-mouth payday.

A typical telephone conversation might go something like this:

"Hello, this is Fluffyhamster at Kuma Arashi Shougakkou. You haven't paid me at all or have deducted an unreasonably large sum from what little pay I was expecting (so I'll thus have barely enough to make it to my schools let alone eat next month once I've paid my rent and bills). If the missing money isn't in my account by such-and-such a time (I'll go back then and re-check) I'll have no option but to leave the school early and head directly for your office. So you'll possibly be having to cover the remaining classes at my school and discussing this matter with me in person. I really hope it doesn't have to come to that".

"Please don't leave your school, we will pay the money. Sorry we forgot to pay you or took too much from your paycheck, we really didn't think you'd mind".

"Haha, yes, what's mere money to a noble teacher like me, I know I ought to exist on air and lofty ideals alone. Anyway, great, thank you, I'll still check though. Thanks for being so professional about everything, you are a real credit to the industry. Oh, and by the way, just wanted to briefly ask about the sports days again. As you seem to be expecting me to go to a number of sports days (given that I work at four elementary schools rather than at say just one JHS), but still haven't clarified if those consecutive weekends will all be paid (though I ultimately value my weekends more than any possible though unlikely additional pay!) or if I can have weekdays plural off in lieu, I have to tell you that, contrary to your apparent expectations of unpaid overtime above and beyond, I'm only willing to attend one such sports day at most, so you might need to decide which one of the four it should be. Sorry, but I'm simply not willing to work several six- or seven-day weeks in a row without further clarification, especially given the general pay problem I just outlined. Funny that, eh".

"I need to check (~ You no good teacher! Make our life difficult! etc etc etc)".

("Are you suggesting you're a good company to work for?!")

I particularly remember how unimpressed I was when one dispatcher couldn't seem to even set up or put through a simple bank payment, despite my having supplied them with my bank details weeks beforehand. My first paycheck from them thus apparently slipped their mind, as nothing had gone into my account, and had to be delivered in cash at a nomikai they were having that evening. Annoying and embarrassing, but of course I was the one who was the bad guy and soured that particular relationship from the very start. And at the nomikai the CEO stressed to us how little profit ("Only 4%!") he was making from our endeavours, like he was running a charity gig and the one doing all the too-unrewarding hard work whilst not taking his still-worthwhile cut. I'm not sure about Japan, but that sort of talk simply isn't cricket in England. And he was the sort of guy who had nothing better to do than have me instructed per the pro-rated deal to not go in to schools on certain days when the school wanted to change the scheduling a bit, then fail to remind the school I wasn't due to visit but still harass me with an early-morning phone call on my supposed day off to tell me the Vice-Principal at the school wanted to know where I was...necessitating me reminding the company of the schedule they'd given me. Complete and utter twerp running an incompetent numpty outfit. Rolling Eyes

Merry Crimbo! Laughing
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1490
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"If the missing money isn't in my account by such-and-such a time (I'll go back then and re-check) I'll have no option but to leave the school early and head directly for your office. So you'll possibly be having to cover the remaining classes at my school and discussing this matter with me in person. I really hope it doesn't have to come to that".


That's what I did. I put down my tools, went to the office, and looked them on the eye.

The branch manager's response was, ah, you caught us, and you're awfully principled and honest.

What you describe, the incompetence and lack of responsibility isn't sumo, either, but all too common in dispatch companies here. Japanese employees get treated badly all the time, doing unpaid work, being shut out of raises and benefits, and suffering stress from lack of job security. So-called "black companies" abound.

Happy Hogswatch.
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 243

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TokyoLiz wrote:
Natsume, thanks.

I've mentioned in another thread that I, too, have had rough times in 20+ years of working in education. In my hometown, I was laid off from a school and fortunately qualified for a job counseling program for a month. In Japan, I have been mentored and counseled by Buddhist priest friends (I don't identify as Buddhist) and cross cultural counselors. Teaching has its stressors, and teaching in another culture takes a lot of knowledge and perspective.

From experience, I know how valuable counseling is.

The old folks like me who live and work here have confirmed again and again that you are right - Aeon, like a lot of other businesses in Japan, treat employees badly, abuse their time and use nonsensical "methods", and generally micromanage the behaviour of employees. They take advantage of inexperienced and uninformed recent grads, and those with little knowledge of Japanese culture and business practices or the labour laws.

Japan has a huge problem with "black companies" , businesses that are contemptuous of the labour code and take advantage of the working poor and students. Aeon is not the worst, and foreign employees are not the only victims.

Few are recommending these crappy Eikaiwa corporations. I routinely tell people on this board and in person, don't even think about working for eikaiwa unless it's your only way to get a visa, and you have a clearly thought out exit strategy to implement when you hit the ground here.

The last thing, and this is harsh, but 2 years and 21 pages later, you have done nothing meaningful to change the situation, and you haven't put yourself in a position to change it. You didn't last a week, so you didn't get any real experience of the working world here. You've merely told us what you object to and how you have complained to the company. You mentioned the contact with the cult-watchdog, but the cult issue is tangential to serious labour issues.


When you say I have done nothing meaningful to change the situation, I just don't agree. I certainly don't want to do anything else further to change the situation.

I have done the only thing that I can realistically do: to warn people that one's individuality will be under siege once they take the plunge. By simply doing this, I have provided a much-needed service, as people can see the clear lines that define this argument, and then make up their own minds.

What I call cult-like behavior, you call micromanagement. we can leave it at that.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to commandeer this thread further. Happy Holidays.
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Shakey



Joined: 29 Aug 2014
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I arrived at work one afternoon to start my shift, and it was a pay day. However, my salary was not deposited into my account.

There were several students already in class and the the class was about to start. I went into the manager's office and asked her why my salary was not deposited into my account.

She said that she did not have the money and asked me if, only this one time, she could pay me at some point later.

I politely and firmly explained to her: I do not teach if I do not get paid.

She looked at me for a few seconds, then started talking to the staff in Japanese. I couldn't catch much of what was said, but she smiled, reached down into the bottom drawer of her desk and took out a large envelope. She pulled out enough cash to cover my monthly salary and handed it to me.

I thanked her, and went to my classroom.

I never had a problem again with being paid late.
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Lamarr



Joined: 27 Sep 2010
Posts: 190

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good on you. There's nothing like threatening to withdraw your labour at short notice to get things done.
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 243

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is calling Aeon a cult unfair? If so, why?

Would it be more appropriate to say that one has to adhere to certain values and principles? If so, what are those values, exactly?

Is there room for individuality and creativity that I did not see in my own personal experience?

I genuinely want a perspective provided that could be of assistance to others going forward.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 998
Location: US

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to see you haven't disappeared on us, rslrunner.

rslrunner wrote:
Would it be more appropriate to say that one has to adhere to certain values and principles? If so, what are those values, exactly?

My guess would be: willingness and ability to conform (e.g., to a specific way of teaching, to specific patterns of behavior)

Quote:
Is there room for individuality and creativity that I did not see in my own personal experience?

No, probably not (though I have no first hand experience with them).
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The Transformer



Joined: 03 Mar 2017
Posts: 39

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main thing that the criminal, money racket eikaiwa like Aeon require is that you complete your contract, and don't do anything to annoy the customers and give the school a bad name, which might result in them not signing up for more lessons. That's their bottom line: getting as much money as possible off each and every customer, and squeezing as much work as possible out of each instructor for the full length of the contract. Anything that impacts on either of those will bring them down on the perpetrator.

Eikaiwa usually have some form of disciplinary system to control you and keep you in line so that you do as you're told and don't jump ship before time.
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rslrunner



Joined: 12 Feb 2010
Posts: 243

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rtm wrote:
Glad to see you haven't disappeared on us, rslrunner.

rslrunner wrote:
Would it be more appropriate to say that one has to adhere to certain values and principles? If so, what are those values, exactly?

My guess would be: willingness and ability to conform (e.g., to a specific way of teaching, to specific patterns of behavior)

Quote:
Is there room for individuality and creativity that I did not see in my own personal experience?

No, probably not (though I have no first hand experience with them).


I agree with your answers.

I had signed up to acquire knowledge, not adhere to behavior. However, Japanese culture may place an emphasis on behavior first, and only then can knowledge be a priority. I am trying to be even-handed.

Teachers are not allowed to sit down during the lesson. At all. Four to five hours a day, every day. They must stand up the whole time. I find this extreme. But some may disagree.

But instructors are never told about this requirement beforehand. If a rule like this is implemented, it is not made clear or articulated in advance, and then many people on this forum believe something like this should not even be talked about, then I believe I was in the right in tipping the scales in a small way in the opposite direction.
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