Toyota needs to cut more costs at its Altona factory.
Toyota needs to cut more costs at its Altona factory. david mcarthur

Toyota to negotiate for lower Altona worker production costs

CARS manufactured in Australia could soon be a thing of the past. 

The Federal Government has just launched an inquiry by the Productivity Commission to investigate the "ongoing viability" producing cars in Australia, and now Toyota wants urgent workplace changes to reduce costs.

It comes only two weeks after announcing it would make 100 voluntary redundancies at its Altona manufacturing plant.

Ford has already announced plans to shut up shop in 2016, while Holden's future is on a knife edge - not helped by boss Mike Devereux's imminent departure for a new job within General Motors. 

Toyota wants a variation of its Workplace Agreement terms and conditions to provide greater flexibility and increase its global competiveness.

The Japanese company's Australian arm says some of the proposed changes to the terms and conditions involve "the removal of outdated and uncompetitive practices and allowances that increase Toyota's labour costs and reduce its global competitiveness".

While the points up for review have not been revealed, they will be discussed with the union and 2500 employees during the coming weeks.

President and CEO Max Yasuda and executive vice president and COO Dave Buttner today met with union officials and manufacturing employees to ask for their continued support as it takes this action.

"Everyone is working extremely hard to ensure Toyota's long term manufacturing future in Australia, but we must do more if we want to move towards being globally competitive," Mr Yasuda said.

"The support of our employees is needed to modernise the work practices at our plant to increase productivity and improve our competitiveness.

"Our continuous improvement towards global competitiveness is crucial to securing production of the next generation vehicle and maintaining our export program."

Mr Yasuda said although the company is part-way through its transformation journey, the proposed variation is needed if Toyota is to achieve its targets.

"We need to improve our productivity and reduce the cost of each of our locally built vehicles by $3800 by 2018. Although we have made progress, the speed of change has not been fast enough," he said.

"We need to take urgent action because we are now seeing gaps in our transformation plans. We must develop detailed plans to close these gaps if we want to remain at the negotiating table for future investments."

Mr Yasuda said manufacturing employees will still receive two scheduled pay rises next year as part of the current Workplace Agreement. 

Employees will vote on the proposed variation of the terms and conditions on December 5. The outcome be announced the next day.

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