berlitz2.jpg In 2009 teachersolidarity reported on a strike by foreign language teachers in Japan working for the Berlitz corporation Thanks to the excellent website www.labourstart.org, we have discovered that this long running dispute is still ongoing. (see previous post). Berlitz was a large US corporation prvoiding langauge schools all over the world and is now owned by the Japanese corporation Benesse. The strike began when Berlitz teachers in Japan claimed a pay rise after having had no increase for 16 years. At that time both Berlitz and Benesse were enjoying record profits. The company took the union BEGUNTO to court on the basis that the strike was illegal and the case has been dragging on since. However in the mean time Berlitz has fired two of the people named in the court injunction. One of them Canadian Catherine Campbell, was fired for taking time off for therapy for late stage breast cancer. The company refused to give her compassionate leave even though she was not receiving any pay or any help with her medical treatment. This way of treating its employees- the purveyors of 'superb teaching' according to Berlitz's promotional website contrasts nicely with the mission statement of Benesse: 'Benesse Corporation is committed to three key objectives: providing the kind of high-quality services we would be happy to use ourselves and offer to our own families; supporting people in fulfilling their potential at every stage of life; and delivering services that help customers find even greater enjoyment in life the older they become. It is to achieve these goals that we dedicate ourselves to our business activities each day' The ever more aggressive drive towards privatisation of state education services can only mean more of such employment practices unless it is halted by the struggles of teachers all over the world.