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Toyota cuts 100 more jobs at Altona

In the balance: Toyota Australia needs to cut the manufacturing cost of its Camry by $3800 a car by 2018 to maintain its factory here.

Export dip forces more job cuts at Toyota’s Altona plant as company debates future

Toyota logo15 Oct 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

Updated 4.15pm 15/10/2013TOYOTA Australia has announced a further 100 job cuts across its Victorian operations due to a drop in exports of its locally made Camry.

The move, which will take effect by December, is a major blow to the company which needs to slice $3800 out of the manufacturing cost of each car in order for its Altona plant to survive beyond 2018 when the all-new Camry is due.

The company also confirmed that the decision on its manufacturing future in Australia would be made next year, putting the jobs of more than 2500 Australian Toyota factory workers on the line, as well as thousands more in the parts industry.

Toyota Australia executive vice-president and chief operating officer Dave Buttner announced the job cuts in Melbourne today, saying the decision had been taken due to the loss of 5000 exports a year from its biggest overseas market, in the Middle East.

He said the voluntary redundancies would be secured by the end of November, and then the production line at Altona would be slowed from 470 units a day to 431 from the start of December.

Mr Buttner said his company was in constant discussions with new federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane over Toyota’s future plans in this country.

He said Toyota wanted to continue manufacturing in Australia, but it could only do so if it was competitive with other Toyota plants around the world.

 center imageLeft: Toyota executive vice president Dave Buttner.

Mr Buttner said the Australian operation was benchmarking itself against Toyota’s Kentucky Camry plant in the United States, which he said was regarded as the top plant for the car in Toyota’s universe.

Last year, Toyota cut its Altona workforce by 350 people in compulsory redundancies in an episode that raised the ire of unions and employees within the plant.

Since 2012, Toyota Australia has engaged in an efficiency exercise called Toyota Australia Future Business Transformation to try to achieve global-competitive levels of manufacturing costs.

Under that scheme, the company was able to secure $123 million in funding from its parent earlier this year to manufacture and export a facelifted Camry from 2015.

Mr Buttner said the next hurdle was to secure the manufacturing of the new-generation Camry beyond 2018 and the necessary export program, without which it would not be viable.

Exports make up approximately 70 per cent of Toyota Australia’s total production volume, with thecompany expected to build 104,000 Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion sedans thisyear.

In a statement released this morning, Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda said the decision had been difficult, but was vital if the company wanted to move towards global competiveness.

“Our employees are our greatest asset, so it is with extreme sadness that we have to adjust ourworkforce,” he said.

“As a manufacturer we are subject to fluctuating orders from our domestic and export markets, so weneed to have the flexibility to respond to changes in conditions.

“We will now be working closely with all of our employees to ensure they understand why we havemade this decision and support them during this difficult period.”

Mr Yasuda said everyone at Toyota Australia was working extremely hard to ensure our long term manufacturing future in Australia.

“Although we have made progress, we are now seeing gaps in our plans that must be closed tosecure investment for the next generation vehicle and to maintain our export program,” he said.

“This decision making process has started, so we must show our parent company that we are not onlyachieving our targets, but that we have the relevant plans in place to achieve them right up until 2018.

“This is why everyone at Toyota Australia is working incredibly hard to find new plans and initiatives tocontribute to achieving our targets as we move towards being globally competitive.”

Mr Yasuda said expressions of interest for the voluntary redundancies will be open to all permanentmanufacturing direct employees.

Federal opposition industry spokesman Senator Kim Carr said Toyota’s decision to seek 100 redundancies from its Australian workforce should serve as a wake-up call to the Abbott government.

“After more than a month in office it’s time the Abbott government ended the delays and gave Australia’s automotive manufacturers, and the tens of thousands of workers they employ, certainty,” he said.

“Australian manufacturers are under enormous cost pressures with the dollar at this level, and if we want to see major employers like our car-makers stay in business, providing jobs for Australians, we need to back them.”

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