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Toyota’s glass supply shattered

Pane pain: Glass for the Toyota Aurion and Camry will have to be imported after Australia's last auto glass manufacturer closes shop soon.

Former Pilkington auto glass operation in Geelong to close

General News logo3 Jun 2009

TOYOTA will have to find a new source for windscreens and other auto glass after CSR made a final decision to close its North Geelong automotive laminating operation with the loss of 70 jobs.

It means an end to local production of automotive glass after decades of operation under the Pilkington name – CSR Viridian since 2007 – and makes car windows the latest car part manufacturing process to move offshore.

CSR has twice extended the intended closing date from the original June deadline to September, and now to December, in a bid to give adequate preparation time for both the employees at the plant and to Toyota.

Toyota will now have to join GM Holden and Ford in sourcing its automotive glass from offshore suppliers.

“We have done everything we possibly could to work with both Toyota and other stakeholders, but unfortunately no offer has materialised which is consistent with the value of the land, plant and equipment,” CSR spokesman Martin Cole told the Geelong Advertiser. Unlike many earlier instances when component manufacturers had stopped operating, the 70 affected workers will receive their full entitlements under CSR’s human resources policies.

"We're disappointed, despite doing everything we possibly could to accommodate a possible sale we're left with no alternative now but to pursue the original plan, which is an exit of the business.

"It's around 70 jobs in total, the majority will regrettably go from October 1 in Geelong and I'd like to stress the point that CSR will continue to ensure we provide support to those employees and will obviously ensure they receive full entitlements in line with human resources policies." Pilkington opened the Geelong plant in 1937 to support the emerging Australian car industry and, in particular, Ford, which was making cars in Geelong. The Broadmeadows assembly plant was not established until 1960.

Staff peaked at 900 in the 1980s before the Button Plan tariff reductions forced the adoption of more automation.

In 2000 Pilkington installed a state-of-the-art laminating machines but continuing tariff reductions recommended by the Productivity Commission and locked in by the Howard government finally meant local glass production was no longer possible. Another piece of Australia’s manufacturing base has now been lost.

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