…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
The breakdown of car manufacturing in Australia is filling the Greens’ hearts with joy. They, and the trade unions worked long and hard towards that goal. Some people are dismayed; most are resigned. That’s the way the union cookie crumbles. Australia’s car manufacture (theoretically 80% local content) went down from 334,742 in 2007 to 239,443 in 2010. Perhaps irrelevant snippet of information: Last year, 2011, Mexico exported 2.1 million of 2.6 million vehicles produced there.
In February this year, Toyota Australia chief executive Max Yasuda complained about the high levels of absenteeism: “If you don’t work on Friday it is a long weekend, right? In this country, or in our factory, they just don’t come in and later on they ask for sick leave.” He said that in some parts of the factory absenteeism could be as high as 30 per cent. Also, in 2011 Toyota lost more than $50 million in revenue by strikes during negotiations over the wages.
Last week Toyota fired 350 workers, 10% of the workforce of its Altona (Victoria) plant, using individual ratings on a scale of one to five. Predictably, all standard Left hell broke loose. Mr Wayne Swan, the Treasurer in the Labor/Green Federal Government said, “It did look particularly unpleasant.” The leader of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s vehicle division, Ian Jones, said half the plant’s shop stewards were sacked. A company spokesman denied union delegates were targeted. “All employees at the manufacturing plant were assessed using selection criteria agreed between the union and Toyota. The selection criteria assessed employees on a range of factors such as behaviour, skills and knowledge. Supervisors were also assessed on their ability to manage people.”
The criteria apparently included:
■ safety, including wearing of uniform and proper equipment;
■ work quality, performance, problem solving and troubleshooting;
■ skill and teamwork;
■ work standards and diligence;
■ technical skills;
■ the “Toyota way” and corporate values.
The union so dislikes this un-Australian methods of selecting employees for redundancy that it is going to take Toyota to court, if FairWork Australia could be described as such.
“But easily the most insidious aspect of the whole affair was the way Toyota graded the workers with a string of criteria more in line with the wacky world of Japanese workplace culture than Australia’s longstanding and well-oiled industrial relations laws,” wrote Anthony Sharwood in Punch of 19th April. I do not know whether the reference to “Australia’s longstanding and well-oiled industrial relations laws”, was made a tongue-in-cheek. Probably not; Anthony Sharwood apparently believes in Anthropogenic Global Warming …
Somewhere else another author wrote to the effect that Toyota is trying to impose unfair Japanese work practices on free Australians. Perhaps the future Chinese management of Australian “human resources” would be more to his and the trade union bosses liking – “In response to sudden demand, a Chinese factory making iPhones was able to rouse 8,000 workers from their dormitory and put them on the assembly line at midnight, according to the New York Times. Not the next day. Midnight.” The Economist writes approvingly, “ Nowhere else are such feats feasible.”