Toyota has established itself as perhaps the best car manufacturer in the world producing a wide range of high quality vehicles at competitive prices.
Most engineers have agreed that the way to increased productivity are the methods established by Edwards Deming and later Taiichi Ono as implemented by Toyota and all other Japanese car manufacturers like Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru. German and US car manufacturers and other industries have followed.
Even Ferrari needed Honda’s help to make their F1 cars reliable. Toyota’s continuous focus on innovation and worker cooperation has resulted in a productivity revolution that is admired worldwide.
It was only a few years ago that Toyota were exporting over $1 billion worth of cars per year from Altona. Unlike Ford in particular, Toyota focused on competing in the world market. They know what they must do to win.
Now, the Toyota plant is threatened with closure because Toyota need to reduce labour costs by $17 million per year. The aim is to reduce labour cost per vehicle with no change in the workers pay by changing work practices. This is clearly reasonable. Toyota know the world market.
It is time for the leaders of the AMWU and the Federal opposition to assist rather than hinder and follow Minister Macfarlane’s initiatives.
I have worked with unions in a wide range of industries and the common problem with them is not the membership it is the leadership.
John Blakemore is the former president of the Manufacturing Society of Australia.