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West Japan Railway Co., or JR West, has agreed with its biggest labor union to transfer 200 to 300 employees outside its group on loan in stages from June.

The move is part of efforts to reduce its personnel costs while maintaining employment at a time when the novel coronavirus pandemic is heavily weighing on the business of the railway operator.

The employees to be transferred on loan will work at restaurants, hotels and other businesses outside the group for up to two years, according to the agreement between the firm and West Japan Railway Trade Union.

Personnel costs involved will be shouldered by the companies to which the employees are relocated.

The program will cover all of some 30,000 JR West employees, excluding contract workers.

JR West, which is seeing a significant drop in the number of passengers amid the spread of the coronavirus, is expected to log a consolidated net loss of 240 billion yen for the year that ended last month, against the preceding year’s ¥89.3 billion net profit.

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