Tim O'Brien | Apr 16, 2012

Toyota Australia has today begun sacking 350 of its Altona workforce. While additional security has reportedly been engaged to oversee the departures, the redundancies are a surprise to no-one.

On January 23rd this year, Toyota Australia President and CEO, Mr Max Yasuda announced the redundancies, citing "severe operating conditions", "unsustainable financial returns" and "reduced cost competitiveness". The strong Australian dollar and falling export sales being the culprits here.

"In consideration of current and anticipated market conditions this action is necessary. It is not possible to maintain our workforce at its current size,” Mr Yasuda said in January, when making the announcement.

Over the past five years, Toyota Australia's manufacturing production has declined from 149,000 cars in 2007, to 94,000 cars in 2011 - a drop of 36 percent.

A small rise in output is anticipated this year, but not enough to save workers earmarked for redundancy.

In identifying which workers would go, Toyota conducted assessments of its 3000-strong workforce and those with the lowest ratings are now being shown the door.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has reported that 262 workers will be involuntarily sacked, an additional 88 put their hands up for redundancies.

Toyota Australia however has committed to assisting workers made redundant to find new jobs.

With perhaps its best-ever Camry, and certainly its best ever Camry Hybrid, coming off its Altona production lines, there is perhaps a bitter irony for Toyota in the company's recent fortunes.

Unfortunately, Toyota, like Holden, is suffering the effects in its export markets of a currency that shows no signs of weakening.

And, certainly, there is little likelihood of any decline in the AU dollar while the resources sector continues to perform so strongly, continues to suck in vast amounts of foreign capital, continues to receive such generous Government incentives and rebates, and continues to be taxed at such a comparatively low rate.

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