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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Committed Toyota

As speculation mounts that Ford’s Australian vehicle manufacturing will wind up early and doubts emerge about whether Holden will build the Cruze beyond 2015, Toyota Australia has reaffirmed its determination to assemble cars at its Altona plant until the end of 2017.
Toyota last week announced it would exit Australian manufacturing, joining Holden –also aiming to build cars here until the end of 2017 – and Ford, shooting for an October 2016 shutdown. Both announced their withdrawal last year.
“It is our strong intention to go through to the end of 2017,” Toyota's executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb told motoring.com.au at today’s launch of the 11th generation Corolla sedan in Tasmania.
“We have announced we will invest in ‘Big Minor Change’ [for Camry and Aurion] in 2015, which is a statement of intent, if you like. 

“We wouldn’t be spending that money if it wasn’t our intention to go all the way through. We have a customer base both here and over in the Middle East which is reliant on our ability to supply.”
Potential hurdles for Toyota include whether enough of the Australian supplier base survives to enable it to fulfil this commitment and whether sales stay high enough to warrant keeping the Altona plant open.
Sales of Ford’s locally built Falcon and Territory have slumped far enough to prompt the retrenchment of 300 workers ahead of schedule and for the blue oval to warn it may not be able to sustain the losses out to October 2016, although it remains committed to a Falcon and Territory update in the third quarter of 2014.
Holden faces questions over what to do with the Cruze small car, which is due for generational change mid-decade. The new car won’t be built here, which potentially places the Elizabeth plant survival till the end of 2017 in doubt.
“Obviously we are going to have to work with suppliers, we are going to have to work with governments. Most importantly we are going to have to work with our people and the unions that represent them and even the other manufacturers to ensure an orderly transition,” Cramb said.
“But it is our clear intention to be here until the end of 2017.”
Cramb revealed an appeal of a federal court decision preventing Toyota from putting a package of cost-cutting measures to a vote of Altona staff would still go ahead. But whatever the outcome it would not influence the duration of the factory’s existence.
“That case found according to that particular judge that we did something contrary to the law and we don’t believe that we have done that, so we are going to represent our view and fight for it,” Cramb said.
Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg ruled that Toyota’s bid to cut employee entitlements breached the no-extra-claims provision of its workplace agreement covering employees. He granted an injunction filed against Toyota by four senior workers and backed by the Australian Metal Workers Union (AMWU), meaning the company would first have to seek a variation from its employees through a vote before the broader agreement could be put to workers.
“We believe we are right to get our employees to vote on the conditions but that’s not the way it was judged to be in the case. We believe that’s not true. So we are going to represent ourselves and make sure that we address that situation,” Cramb added.
Cramb said that now the decision had been made to close Altona most of the cost cutting measures were no longer relevant to the new workplace agreement due to be negotiated in 2015. 
“The negotiations we are going to have with the employees and the union are totally different now,” Cramb said. “So when we were trying to get that discussion it was to secure local manufacturing and export here in Australia.
“But clearly those conditions have changed, so the discussions we will have into 2015 about the workplace agreement will be totally different.” 
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Item Reviewed: Committed Toyota Rating: 5 Reviewed By: sri purwaningsih