The Central Labor Relations Commission (CLRC) ruled on March 15 that a group of convenience store franchise owners do not have the right to bargain collectively with chain operators.  The CLRC reasoned that the business owners did not qualify as “workers” under the Labor Union Act but were instead independent operators. The ruling was the first of its kind by the CLRC with regard to the labor and management positions of franchise owners. In reaching its decision it dismissed former rulings by the labor relations commissions in Tokyo and Okayama Prefecture.