Toyota Australia Postpones Employee Vote Following Federal Court Ruling Photo:
Trevor Collett | Dec, 13 2013 | 12 Comments

Toyota Australia's plans for a new workplace agreement have fallen foul of the Federal Court. A legal challenge from four senior employees has Toyota in the uncomfortable position of finding that it has breached the Fair Work Australia Act.

The Court ruled that Toyota could not vary its current workplace agreement, due to expire in March 2015, under the “no-extra-claims” clause within the existing agreement.

Workers at Toyota’s Altona plant were due to vote on the new agreement today, but a directive from the Federal Court to halt all action has seen the vote postponed.

Toyota had planned to honour two pay-rises during 2014 from the existing agreement, as part of its proposed changes.

In order for the vote on the new agreement to take place, Toyota workers must now agree to remove the no-extra-claims clause from the current agreement, causing significant delays.

Toyota has therefore decided to postpone the employee vote to an unspecified date, and is considering lodging an appeal.

"We believe that we are within our rights to vary our Workplace Agreement provided the majority of our employees support the changes through a formal vote," Toyota Australia President and CEO, Max Yasuda, said.

"The company is doing everything that it can to secure the future for our employees and their families.”

Mr Yasuda said that the future development of a new Camry model would depend on the outcome of Toyota’s negotiations with its employees.

"GM Holden's planned closure in 2017 will put our manufacturing operations and the local supplier network under unprecedented pressure, so it is now more important than ever before that we make urgent changes,” Mr Yasuda said.

"A decision will be made next year on the next generation Camry and export program and we need to take urgent action if we want to stay at the negotiating table for future investments.”

"The proposed changes were designed to remove outdated and uncompetitive terms and conditions that make it difficult to compete with other Toyota plants throughout the world."

Toyota’s Altona plant in Australia is one of eight plants world-wide that currently build the Camry and associated models.

In October, Toyota announced its intentions to renegotiate its employee workplace agreement, aiming to reduce production costs by $3800 per vehicle.

The local carmaker also announced 100 voluntary redundancies in October, following on from more than 400 lay-offs early this year and 350 last year.

Last month, sales of the locally-built Toyota Camry and Aurion in Australia were down 24.5 percent and 40 percent on the same month last year respectively.

Despite the downturn, the Camry still comfortably leads the medium car segment (below $60,000) while Aurion sales only comprise 12.1 percent of the large car segment under $70,000.

Commodore and Falcon command a combined 86.1 percent of the large car market, despite both models nearing extinction in their current forms.

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