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Japan Airlines Says Unions Plan Strike on Tuesday

Japan Airlines said on Monday its unions plan a one-day strike after management turned down their request for a pay rise, indicating the tough challenges the company faces to cut costs.

Persistently high oil prices and personnel costs have hit JAL's bottom line, and the company said in February it aims to slash 4,300 people, or 8% of its work force, to reduce annual personnel costs by 50 billion yen ($430 million).

But its strong and numerous labor unions have cast doubt on the feasibility of the plan. JAL has eight labor unions after a merger with Japan Air System in 2002.

"It is tough for the management to cut the number of employees and lower the costs," Okasan Securities analyst Yoshihisa Miyamoto said. "The company as a whole hasn't been able to share the same sense of crisis," he said. "The management has finally faced the facts in the last year or so, but it has not spread to the unions."

The company said four of its unions plan a strike on Tuesday, a day before a national holiday, possibly affecting 26% of its domestic flights and 17,000 passengers.