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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 11 - 17  > Education ministry puts brake on firing of part-time university teachers
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2017 January 11 - 17 [LABOR]

Education ministry puts brake on firing of part-time university teachers

January 12 & 14, 2017
The Ministry of Education late last year notified all national universities in Japan that terminating part-time staff’s contracts within five years is “against the purpose of the Labor Contract Act”.

The Ministry accordingly informed Japanese Communist Past member of the House of Councilors Tamura Tomoko on January 11, who has often taken up in the Diet the issue of unilateral termination of contracts of fixed-term university workers, of this.

With the law being revised in April 2013, those who work on fixed-term contracts for five consecutive years became entitled to opt for open-ended contracts.

Under this new rule, many state universities altered the length of fixed-term contracts to no more than five years, obviously to avoid having to offer open-ended contracts, and began terminating part-time lecturers on 5-year contracts when the term of these contracts expired.

For example, at Tohoku University, about 3,200 adjunct professors and administrative staff have been facing de fact dismissals. The teachers’ and part-time teachers’ unions at this university have been demanding permanent contracts for all staff.

The Ministry of Education in its notification sent to all the 86 national universities states that if the contracts are not renewed before five years, the university authorities should be held accountable. The Ministry also requires state universities to report on what policies they intend to take to handle the new rule, how their work regulations are to be changed, and if they explain to teachers’ unions about their policies dealing with the new rule.

JCP Dietmember Tamura said, “Tenacious struggles by university teaching staff and their supporters brought about this outcome. The response of university authorities is now called into question.”

* * *

Part-time teachers’ union requests Education Ministry to support open-ended contracts

A union of part-time teachers at universities in the Tokyo metropolitan area on January 12 made representations to the Ministry of Education, demanding that appropriate guidance be provided to university authorities so that fixed-term lecturers can continue to work under open-ended contracts.

Japanese Communist Party members of the House of Councilors Kira Yoshiko and Tamura Tomoko also attended this petitioning activity which was held in a Diet room.

A union representative argued that contract termination before a 5-year period of employment at national universities could allow other educational institutions to follow the same course of action, leading to the spread of the disposable use of temporary researchers and teachers.

A Ministry official avoided any mention of an across-the-board judgement but admitted to the high possibility that long-term contract lecturers are eligible to receive open-ended contracts.

Past related articles:
> Contingent workers at Tohoku Univ. fighting back against dismissal plan [June 8, 2016]
> Gov’t should secure stable working conditions for university teachers [November 10, 2013]
> Part-time teachers at universities fight back against 5-year contract limit [March 29, 2013]
> Gov’t pressures national universities to cut their staff wages [June 22, 2012]
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