Manufacturing News

No saving Toyota workers; 350 to be sacked

Toyota Australia will sack 350 workers from its manufacturing plant in Altona, Victoria as part of an immediate plan to adjust its workforce and reduce pressure on its operations.

Toyota Australia President and CEO, Mr Max Yasuda announced the redundancies yesterday afternoon during an annual address at the company’s Altona manufacturing plant in Melbourne.

Mr Yasuda told Toyota workers that the redundancies are part of a review the company is conducting of its Australia business. The purpose of review, he said, was to manage operating conditions which are placing significant pressure on the company’s operations.

"In consideration of current and anticipated market conditions this action is necessary. It is not possible to maintain our workforce at its current size,” Mr Yasuda said.

"Toyota Australia is facing severe operating conditions resulting in unsustainable financial returns due to factors including the strong Australian currency, reduced cost competitiveness and volume decline, especially in export markets."

The car maker has reported a steady decline in its manufacturing production levels over the past five years. Its Australia-based vehicle manufacturing production levels have dropped from 149,000 cars in 2007, to 94,000 cars in 2011.

The company expects production levels to rise this year with 95,000 cars estimated to roll of its production lines in 2012. However the rise is small in comparison to the overall decline the company has seen over the last few years.

"The reality is that our volumes are down. What we assumed was a temporary circumstance has turned into a permanent situation. This drop of 36 per cent in just four years shows the scale of our challenges,” Mr Yasuda said.

Toyota Australia will be looking to implement measures, which include workforce adjustment, import vehicle sourcing optimisation, efficiency improvements and cost improvements to respond to challenges it is facing in light of a high Australian dollar and declining demand and transform its Australian operations.

"Manufacturing is a vital element of our overall operations in Australia. The actions we take now to transform our business will pave the way for our future success as a leading manufacturer and marketer of vehicles to local and export customers,” Yasuda said.

2012 will see Toyota Australia launch its next generation Hybrid Camry and Aurion models, along with its flagship Camry launched in December 2011.

The car maker is building a new plant to manufacture four cylinder and hybrid engines at Altona.

Toyota Australia currently employs 4,683 employees in Australia. The Altona plant employs more than 3500 staff.

Rumours of Toyota job cuts first surfaced yesterday morning when reports that the automotive giant was looking to downscale its vehicle production in Australia.

The jobs cuts are expected to have a wide flow-on effect for related industries, including parts-supply and logistics industries.

Toyota has received more than $100 million in government funding over the past four years.

In 2008, Toyota Australia received $35 million from the Federal Government for its hybrid Camry engine. In 2010, it received another $63 million for its Altona plant from the Federal Government with the State Government contributing an undisclosed sum.

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