Toyota has dismissed the claim by Treasurer Joe Hockey that its decision to stop manufacturing in Australia by 2017 was caused by inflexible union demands.
"The fact is they were very concerned about the conditions that existed at Toyota in Australia," he told Fairfax radio, adding that this included union "militancy".
However, in a statement Toyota said that it has never blamed the union for its decision, neither publicly or in private discussions with any stakeholders.
The statement said, “The market and economic factors contributing to the decision include the unfavourable Australian dollar that makes exports unviable, high costs of manufacturing and low economies of scale for our vehicle production and local supplier base.
“Together with one of the most open and fragmented automotive markets in the world and increased competitiveness due to current and future Free Trade Agreements, it is not viable to continue building cars in Australia.”
The ABC reports that Toyota’s denial of the government claim was seized upon by the Opposition.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was "cruel and heartless" of hockey to make the claim when workers are still affected by the company’s decision.
"Aside from how heartless it is, it's just wrong," he said.
"Toyota has been forced to issue a statement repudiating the claims, showing up Joe Hockey's pathetic attacks on these workers."
The AMWU said in a statement, "It's unfortunate that companies should have to continue to correct the Government's slander."