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A large umbrella group of unions in various industrial sectors has accused companies of forcing employees to work overtime without pay and is warning that it will file criminal complaints if the practice continues.

The 790,000-member Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers’ Unions is prepared to take up the matter with the government’s regional labor standards inspection offices, union officials said.

The federation will ask its member unions to demand during this spring’s labor-management talks that their employers stop forcing staff to work under such harsh conditions.

The move follows the arrest Monday of a nursing home operator in western Tokyo who allegedly failed to pay overtime wages to his employees, marking the first case in which criminal action has been taken against such practices.

The federation fears the practice of unpaid overtime is proliferating rapidly amid the anemic economy, motivating employers to impose such conditions in light of cuts to personnel.

The federation is asking the unions to devise by the end of March a set of rules in cooperation with their employers that will be used to monitor which corporate managers have ordered unpaid work, verify the duration of actual overtime and check whether employers have paid for such overtime.

It is also asking them to improve the accuracy of the methods used to record actual work hours, and verify whether employees have been forced to report fewer hours than actually worked.

Furthermore, it wants the unions to review by the end of June whether employers have followed the new rules.

A senior federation official said: “That some union members are being forced to work overtime without overtime pay, despite the presence of labor unions, is outrageous. If employers don’t comply with our request despite our negotiations, we will take resolute action.”

Tadao Nakamura, 59, operator of the Shinmeien nursing home, in Hamura, western Tokyo, was arrested Monday on suspicion of violating the Labor Standards Law by forcing employees work overtime without pay.

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