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Toyota pay dispute rolls on

Dispute: Toyota Australia expects its Altona factory and parts distributions centres in Melbourne and Sydney to be shut by another two-day scheduled rolling strike this Thursday and Friday.

Altona factory set to grind to a halt again this week as Toyota and unions talk

20 Sep 2011

TOYOTA Australia and unions representing its manufacturing workforce remain deadlocked over a pay dispute, with the company expecting its Altona factory and parts distributions centres in Melbourne and Sydney to be shut by another two-day scheduled rolling strike this Thursday and Friday.

The parties are continuing to talk, but Toyota’s public affairs and communications manager Glenn Campbell said no resolution had been achieved to the dispute that has so far shut the Toyota plant and parts centres for three working days over the past three weeks.

“We want to reach an agreement and reduce further impact on our employees, dealers, suppliers and customers due to this unnecessary action,” he said.

“At this stage, we are expecting further impact at the plant this Thursday and Friday.”

However, hopes that an agreement will be reached soon were raised today by Victorian manufacturing, exports and trade minister Richard Dalla-Riva, who told GoAuto that he sensed the parties were getting closer to a resolution.

Each day of lost production is costing Toyota about 580 Camry and Aurion cars, at a daily bill of about $8 million.

Most of the 3300 workers have rejected Toyota’s pay rise offer of 11 per cent over 39 months after unions originally sought four per cent a year for four years.

The two-days-a-week strike action has caused angst at the plant, with some workers who have chosen to continue working labeled scabs by a hard-core element supporting the stoppage.

Threatening leaflets were left for workers in the factory last week.

Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda last week slammed the strike, saying the industrial action could only hurt the company’s case to maintain its export program.

Camry exports make up 70 per cent of all production from Altona, where Toyota is building a new four-cylinder engine plant for the next generation Camry.

Mr Yasuda’s comments were echoed by Mr Dalla-Riva, who said the long-running dispute was damaging Australia’s reputation as a manufacturer.

He said he hoped the parties would make every effort to end the dispute and minimise the fall-out that could cost Australia in general and Victoria in particular future investment from manufacturing companies.

In the short-term, the strikes are expected to leave Toyota dealers short of Camry run-out stock later this year when the factory is shut temporarily to change over to the new Camry that is expected to arrive in showrooms about November.

A media event this week to trumpet both the new Camry and progress on the $300 million engine plant was cancelled, presumably to be rescheduled sometime after the dispute is settled.

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