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East Japan Railway Co. is negotiating with its labor union on a plan to transfer some 1,900 workers to affiliated companies from April, company sources said Tuesday.

Some 1,300 workers in the railway maintenance division and 600 in the division attending to overhead wires and other electric facilities are subject to the rationalization plan, the sources said.

While JR East currently farms out 70 percent of railway maintenance work to subcontractors, the plan would raise that ratio to 83 percent.

The proposed transfer is part of JR East’s overall plan to slash the number of workers in the two divisions to 4,000 from around 11,000 at present.

But it is premature to say whether the plan will be executed as scheduled because it has not yet won full consent from the labor union, the sources said.

In November, JR East announced a medium-term management plan including a reduction in the workforce to 65,000 from 75,000 over five years from fiscal 2001.

A spokesman for the company said the proposed transfer “has nothing do with” the medium-term plan.

“We are unable to comment (on the transfer program),” he said.

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