Toyota has laid off 8% of the workforce of its only assembly plant in Australia, comprising 350 of the 4,600 employees at the Altona, Melbourne plant. Toyota has always prided itself in the principle of lifetime employment, a central aspect of how it does business. But apparently, it’s difficult to apply overseas.
Toyota said that the layoffs were due to declining demand, prompting a 36% production drop at the plant over the last four years.
In a statement, Toyota Australia CEO Max Yasuda said that the truth is that its volumes have decreased, something that they mistakenly believed to be temporary but has later turned out to be permanent.
Toyota’s plant in Australia produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion sedans for both the market in Australia and for exports. Output peaked in 2007 with 149,000 units, says Autonews.
Toyota expects to achieve 95,000 in 2012. Toyota has had more success in keeping its employees for a lifetime than other automakers but the sad reality is that it’s not a guaranteed proposition whether in Japan or other countries.
After the worldwide economic crisis wreaked havoc in 2008, Toyota temporarily shut down plants or reduced output in the U.S. and Japan. In a few cases, Toyota was able to keep its employees such as what happened in the idled Tundra pickup plant in Texas.
Instead of cutting jobs, Toyota made sure that payrolls would be intact by retraining workers and conducting maintenance during the down time.
In Japan, Toyota’s full-time payroll was kept but the contract workers were dropped. The automakers in Japan have been more flexible by not renewing contracts or hiring for short stints as needed.