Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the Federal Government is holding talks with Toyota aimed at keeping the carmaker in Australia, amid union claims the company is seeing to use Holden’s closure to reduce pay and conditions for thousands of workers.
Toyota has warned that Holden’s decision to stop manufacturing by 2017 puts “unprecedented pressure” on its ability to continue building cars in Australia.
Mr Abbott has revealed that he spoke to Toyota’s Australian boss Max Yasuda last night.
“Obviously the Government will be talking to Toyota,” he told Channel Nine this morning.
“We want Toyota to continue.
“They are in a slightly different position to Holden,” he added. “Much more of their local production has been for export. Toyota locally have been much more integrated into the global operations of the company, it seems, than with Holden.”
The Federal Court will decide today whether Toyota can put a new pay deal to its 2,500 strong workforce, a move that would slash costs at its Altona production plant by $17 million.
But the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has advised Toyota workers not to accept poorer work conditions.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver says Toyota is putting unfair pressure on workers, who will vote on the agreement tomorrow if it gets Federal Court approval.
“The problem with Toyota is that they’ve approached their workers to reduce wages and conditions without any plan of future investment,” he said.
“It’s not the wages and conditions that are going to decide the future of Toyota, it’s going to be the knock-on effect of what happens in the auto components sector and what kind of support the Government is going to do.”
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says it is vital Toyota does not close its Altona factory.
“It is important in terms of jobs, but its also vital for manufacturing capacity, for skills capacity, for the future of these areas in our economy in Victoria,” he said.
“I’ll seize that opportunity to talk to Mr Abbott about the future of Toyota and how the Federal Government can work with the State Government and Toyota and the entire automotive supply chain industry to secure the future of Toyota.”
Toyota worker Phil Hird, who has been employed with the carmaker for 25 years, says he is not confident that his job is safe and that he will be looking for work elsewhere.
“If it’s got to happen, it’s got to happen. [I’m] just seeing what’s out there now and finding out what’s going on,” he said.
“Very shocked and gutted … [I’ve] been here 25 years and the feeling is very empty. It’s been a very very bad 24 hours.”