Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン Zenkoku ippan tōkyō zeneraru yunion?) is a Japanese labor union. Known as the Tokyo General Union, or Tozen (東ゼン Tōzen?), it was founded on April 25, 2010 by Louis Carlet, Dave Ashton, Tony Dolan and others. It is a general amalgamated union, and thus does not restrict membership by industry.
However, Tozen's members tend to be from the publishing, banking, universities and foreign language teaching industries, with most members located in the Kanto region. Tozen is the only foreign-led amalgamated union (godo roso) in Japan.
The executive president is Hifumi Okunuki. The general secretary is Gaetan Moreau.
Founding of the union
Tozen Union was created by a mass defection of most foreigners and some Japanese members of National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu. The NUGW is an older union which traces its roots back to 1956, with the founding of Jōnan Chūshō Gōdō Rōdōkumiai (城南中小合同労働組合?). Tozen is currently the only foreign-led amalgamated union in Japan.
In 1994, the National Union of General Workers Tokyo South was formed, then renamed NUGW Tokyo Nambu in 2003. In 2004, the Foreign Workers Caucus was formed inside Nambu, which would eventually come to have 11 local branches.
On April 25, 2010, six of these branches voted to separate from Nambu and form Tozen. Tozen has since added eight more locals for a total of 14, according to its own website.
Tozen obtained official corporate registration in July 2010, according to its own website.
While Tozen uses General Union in its name, it has only casual ties to the General Union, Fukuoka General Union and the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu. Tozen and General Union both have locals/branches at Gaba, Nova, Bunsai Gakuen, Berlitz and Interac.
Tozen has a number of local unions at different workplaces, including: The Japan Times, Linguaphone, Philippine National Bank, Syndicat des Employés de l’Institut franco-japonais, Lyceé franco-japonais, Sophia University, Gaba, Japan College of Foreign Languages, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Simul Academy, Coco Juku (Nichii Gakkan), Mitsui Fuso, and NCC. Tozen also represents ALTs at various companies as well as university workers and teachers.
Tozen is an activist union and has taken action through the courts and industrial relations bureaucracy a number of times as well as engaging in strikes, leafleting, demonstrations, rallies and freedom of information campaigns. Tozen President (former Paralegal) Hifumi Okunuki began in February 2012 a column in the Japan Times called Labor Pains, in which she details famous labor law court cases.
Throughout 2012 Tozen held discussions with ALT dispatcher Interac to improve working conditions but the talks were not fruitful, and members were targeted as a consequence of unionizing. In response Tozen ALTs struck on November 30, 2012 and again on Dec. 7, 2012 to protest unfair disciplinary measures. Tozen also sued in the Tokyo Labor Commission and in Tokyo District Court to overturn the disciplinary measures.
- "About Tozen". Tozen. August 6, 2010. Retrieved 08-06-2010.
- "Still waiting for that last paycheck". The Japan Times. May 18, 2010. Retrieved 08-06-2010.
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