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Toyota Australia chief to face workforce

Looking ahead: Toyota Australia president Max Yasuda will give his annual address to the car-maker’s 4600 workers on Monday.

Toyota workers to get clearest sign yet over car-maker’s Australian future

7 Feb 2014

TOYOTA Australia’s 4600 workers will get the clearest sign yet next week of the state of the car-maker’s heath as the head of the beleaguered company fronts staff.

Max Yasuda, the president of the Altona-based car-maker’s operations, will speak via a video link to all Toyota Australia employees late on Monday as part of a traditional annual address to the company’s workers.

However, expected to be high on the production line workers’ agendas are a series of proposed cost-saving measures that the car-maker is trying to thrash out with its workforce as Toyota attempts to secure the next generation of cars it hopes to build here.

Uncertainty over the car-maker’s ability to stand alone after the exit of Ford in 2016 and Holden in 2017 has already seen Toyota’s workforce confront management over a number of proposed changes to workplace agreements designed to help cut into the $3800 loss the company says it is making on each car built in Australia.

A Federal Court court case to thrash out Toyota’s appeal against the decision – and a cross-appeal by Toyota shop stewards – will not be heard until May, two months after the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry, and about the same time a decision over the car-maker’s long-term future here is likely.

Toyota’s current enterprise bargaining agreement, which the Federal Court ruled could not be changed by a worker vote originally planned to take place in December, expires next year.

While sales of the locally made Aurion large car continue to struggle – January’s sales were down by almost a quarter on the same month last year – the Altona-built Camry and Camry Hybrid mid-sizers led their segment.

Toyota Australia has declined to comment on the outcome of the Productivity Commission’s review into automotive manufacturing – despite the release of a position paper calling for the end to all government assistance – until after the commission’s final report is released in March.

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