THE struggling car manufacturing industry has received another blow with Toyota announcing it will cut a further 100 jobs in Melbourne because of a fall in export demand for the Camry.
Australia’s biggest producer and exporter of cars says the latest round of redundancies will happen by December, when it will cut the number of vehicles it builds per day from 470 to 430.
“I speak with a heavy heart … we’ve had to make a very difficult decision today and announce up to 100 voluntary redundancies,” said Dave Buttner, Toyota Australia executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“This decision is always made very very carefully but has been brought about due to a drop in export orders … it means we can no longer sustain the current workforce.”
The latest job losses come after Toyota sacked 350 workers in a forced redundancy program in April 2012.
Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the job losses were sad news for the workers.
“Now is not the time to walk away from the automotive industry, if we want a diverse economy, if we want to be a community and an economy that makes things the automotive industry, the engineering and design capability that comes from auto is critically important to our state,” Mr Andrews said.
“I think it’s incumbent upon Denis Napthine to pick up the phone to Tony Abbott and find out exactly what Tony Abbott’s plans are.”
“We cannot afford to lose automotive jobs, if you’re not making cars I don’t think you’ll be making very much.”
Despite the second round of cuts in two years Toyota will still have the largest blue collar workforce among Australia’s three car makers, with the number of employees standing at 2400 after the redundancies (compared to 1700 at Holden and 1500 at Ford).
Mr Buttner said Toyota was committed to building cars in Australia beyond 2018 but a decision on future models would be made next year.
Toyota Australia needs to find ways to save $3800 per car to become competitive with the seven other factories around the world that also make the Camry, including Thailand and North America, both of which have Free Trade Agreements with Australia.
“This reduction … is a further solid reminder of the global nature of Toyota’s business in Australia now,” said Mr Buttner.
When asked if he thought Holden would survive, Mr Buttner said he hoped “Holden remain in this country and support the local supplier base”.
When asked if Toyota’s Australian operations could survive without Holden, Mr Buttner said: “We are laying the foundations for our future growth. We have a very strong desire to continue to build cars in this country.”
Holden is negotiating with the new Federal Government for an increase in taxpayer funding by the middle of next year or face being shut down.
Toyota has been building cars in Australia for 50 years (since 1963) and building engines locally since 1979.
Last month it produced its 3 millionth car and the engine factory assembled its 2 millionth engine.
Toyota has been exporting about 70,000 cars per year (about 70 per cent of its production) to the Middle East since 1996 but export orders fell by about 5000 deliveries this year.
Mr Buttner said it was too early to speculate on the addition of a third model to the Toyota Australia factory, but he said the facility had the capacity to expand if conditions were favourable.
Toyota executives are meeting with Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Friday as part of ongoing negotiations but Mr Buttner said Toyota was not asking for an increase in funding, as Holden was.
“We will continue to work with the government to understand our vision and what we’re doing to strengthen our business,” said Mr Buttner.
“We are not pursuing any incremental funds (but) we were relatively comfortable with the levels of assistance being mooted by the previous government.
“We continue to engage with Minister Macfarlane and his department so they understand the challenges we face as an industry.”[divide]
Source: News Corp Ltd.