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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 April 15 - 21  > Labor dispute board orders convenience store chain to hold collective bargaining with franchise owners
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2015 April 15 - 21 [LABOR]

Labor dispute board orders convenience store chain to hold collective bargaining with franchise owners

April 17, 2015
The Tokyo Labor Relation Commission on April 16 ruled that convenience store franchise owners are workers, ordering FamilyMart Co., the operator of a major convenience store chain, to hold collective bargaining talks with them.

A union consisting of the owners of FamilyMart-franchised outlets has twice requested FamilyMart to engage in collective bargaining sessions, but the company rejected the union’s request by claiming that the franchise owners are independent business managers, not workers.

The labor relations authority, however, recognized that the rejection of entering into collective bargaining by FamilyMart is an unfair labor practice.

The union says that franchise owners have 10-year franchise contracts with FamilyMart. These franchised-store owners are placed in precarious positions because the decision whether to renew the contracts is completely up to FamilyMart.

Based on Supreme Court judicial precedents, the labor dispute panel decided that store franchise owners are not independent managers on the grounds that they are embedded as a labor force into the FamilyMart structure; FamilyMart unilaterally decides details about franchise contracts; store owners have to accept FamilyMart requests; and store owners regularly receive orders and instructions from FamilyMart.

Regarding the right to collective bargaining involving franchised convenience stores, the Okayama Labor Relations Commission in March last year ordered Seven-Eleven Japan Co. to start collective bargaining negotiations with franchise owners.
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