Local Toyota workers lock in 2017 deal

Toyota Camry Hybrid Australia

TOYOTA workers have locked in the final wages and conditions that will carry them through until the end of local manufacturing in 2017.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which announced the landmark enterprise bargaining agreement between the Altona production line and engine casting plant’s 2000 employees, said nine out of 10 had voted in favour of the last-ever agreement.

Importantly, it also guarantees them work until the factories close.

Toyota Australia spokeswoman Beck Angel confirmed the award locked in last week would be the final one for Toyota’s manufacturing workers.

 “We’re very pleased that we were able to reach a positive outcome for those employees,” she said. She said the EBA did not need to include any special provisions for the late 2017 shift from a manufacturer to a full sales and marketing company.

“We organised all the packages after we made the announcement [to quit manufacturing] in February, and in the next 10 weeks we confirmed the severance package and everything, which we worked very heavily with the union,” she said.

“Now that the union has secured certainty over the closure arrangements, we will be putting all our efforts into working with governments and industry to create alternative jobs,” AMWU national vehicles secretary Dave Smith said while announcing the deal.

Toyota is yet to set a final production date for its Australian manufacturing operations, which is still only vaguely slated for closure in “late 2017”. The company is also yet to announce which of Toyota’s other factories will pick up Australia’s annual production capacity, currently sitting at around 110,000 units a year - with seven out of every 10 cars made here slated for export markets.

A heavily facelifted “Big Little Change” Camry and Camry Hybrid mid-sizer, and mildly updated Aurion V6 that will carry both vehicles to the end of Australian manufacturing are expected to launch in the next couple of months.  

In addition to the Toyota deal, Holden workers locked in their fait accompli in November last year, securing a package that equated to four week’s pay for each year of service, as well as four weeks’ severance pay. The package agreed to by Holden workers equated to four weeks' pay for every year of service, plus four weeks' severance pay.

A number of Ford workers, who will see the its manufacturing close in 2016 with the local head office relocated from Broadmeadows to Richmond, Victoria, have been offered redundancies in what it calls its ‘transition’ from manufacturing to a full-line importer. Its workers still live under a cloud of uncertainty with its manufacturing set to close in 2016.

Smith also says that Canberra’s recent announcement to offer $500 million in industry support – part of a $900 million total package promised under the Australian Transformation Scheme – is too little, too late. “If the government had chosen to support the industry and its 50,000 workers 18 months ago, the falling dollar would have resulted in the industry being export competitive again,” said Smith.

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