The federal government claims Toyota management said in December that workplace conditions at its Altona plant were making it hard to continue its manufacturing operations.
The Australian Financial Review reports sources have revealed that Toyota Australia president Max Yasuda said he could convince Toyota headquarters in Japanto stay in Australia as long as it could change the existing workplace conditions.
For example, there was a very long shutdown period over Christmas that had to be accommodated, as well as blood donor leave that the company believed was being abused and 10 days' paid leave for union delegates.
According to the government, Yasuda believed that Toyota may have been able to continue manufacturing in Australia if such conditions were changed.
As The Australian reports, Toyota claimed that its decision to end local manufacturing operations was “not based on any single factor’’. A number of factors, including high manufacturing costs, the high Australian dollar and low economies of scale contributed to the decision.
Nevertheless, as early as last month, the Coalition government was keen to address workplace conditions at Toyota. It wanted to allow workers to vote on proposed changes to its industrial relations policy, after the carmaker sought to add various clauses in its enterprise agreement to improve productivity.
According to the ABC, Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday told party room colleagues that the government should continue to limit industry assistance. He said that ‘waving a blank cheque’ at unprofitable businesses did ‘more harm than good’.