Fukushima operator TEPCO to cut 1,000 more jobs

TOKYO (AFP) - The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant plans to slash more than 1,000 jobs through voluntary retirement in addition to its ongoing streamlining scheme, a business daily said Saturday.

The move is aimed at demonstrating cost-cutting efforts by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) at a time when the government is considering using public funds to decontaminate areas around the plant and lenders are demanding the company review its business turnaround programme, the economic daily Nikkei said.

The utility has been cutting its workforce by 3,600 to 36,000 to the end of next March under a business plan approved in mid-2012.

This reduction was estimated to have been already achieved through increases in early retirement and restraint on new recruitment, the report said.

TEPCO will propose the new plan to slash more than 1,000 jobs between April and September next year to its labour unions shortly, Nikkei said.

The new job cut programme will be incorporated in an updated business turnaround plan to be compiled in December, the daily said.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 ravaged the Fukushima plant's cooling system, sparking a reactor meltdown in the world's worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

TEPCO has been effectively nationalised by a huge injection of public cash to help it survive the vast costs of the clean-up at Fukushima.