Toyota workers not onboard with new workplace agreement

The future of Toyota Australia’s production looks to remain uncertain with workers rejecting the company’s latest workplace agreement proposal, following a secret ballot.

The new agreement followed the previously rejected agreement that which offered workers an 11% increase over 39 months with varied spilt of an initial 2% rise, followed by 2.5%, then 3% and subsequently 3.5% rise. The previous offer was reportedly rejected by unions over the percentage split.

In a statement released yesterday, Toyota Australia executive director manufacturing Chris Harrod said the car manufacturer will continue to work with its employees to determine the reasons for the unsuccessful vote on the workplace new agreement.

"We’re keen to find a way to reach an agreement with our employees and the unions. We acknowledge that we need to better understand what the specific concerns are for our employees,” he said.

Toyota Australia undertook a voting process under the terms of the Fair Work Act which enables the company to conduct a secret ballot to seek endorsement by the majority of voting employees.

The Workplace Agreement vote took place nationally between Thursday, 6 October and Sunday 9 October 2011. The vote was carried out using an electronic voting system enabling employees to cast their vote at work at all Toyota sites or at home.

The company confirmed that more than 3000 employees had participated in the vote.

The secret ballot follows a series of industrial action taken by Toyota Australia workers over an on-going wage dispute.

The company has previously told media it expects a loss of $10 million every day its workers strike. The latest series of strikes has reportedly cost the company at least $50 million.

More than 3,000 workers at the company’s Altona plant in Victoria and parts centres in Sydney and Melbourne are involved in the industrial action, which has the backing of the AMWU.

The situation reached a crucial point when suppliers stated that there was a probability that they may be forced to sack 3,000 employees due to Toyota’s lost of production. This lead the car maker to take formal steps to prevent continuous and extended strikes at the plant that would have significant and potential damaging affects on the industry in September.