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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia and the unions representing its production and parts centre employees have been locked in discussions for the past two days in an attempt to reach an agreement in the long-running pay dispute saga.

Toyota Australia’s Glenn Campbell confirmed the manufacturer received an application from the unions – headed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) – notifying Toyota Australia of their intention to strike this Friday (October 14).

The strike will not go ahead, however, if an agreement – believed to be nearing completion – is reached before then.

Mr Campbell said both parties had shown a “willingness to try to reach an outcome” following the results of two employee workplace agreement votes conducted last week: one for the Altona plant workers, and another for workers in Port Melbourne, Sydney and other regions.

The secret ballot took place nationally from October 6-9 using an electronic voting system under the terms of the Fair Work Act, with employees able to vote either at work or home.

More than two-thirds of employees at the Altona plant voted against Toyota Australia’s offer of an 11 per cent pay raise over 36 months. Conversely, only slightly more than half of the employees in the other poll disapproved of Toyota’s proposed terms. The unions have been pushing for a 12 per cent pay raise over three years with a number of specific timing details that have so far been unmatched in Toyota’s offers.

 

Altona:

No – 67.73 per cent

Yes – 32.27 per cent

Total votes cast – 2697

Informal votes – 20

 

Port Melbourne, Sydney and Regions:

No – 53.78 per cent

Yes – 46.22 per cent

Total votes cast – 331

Informal votes – 0

Following the tallying of the votes earlier this week, Toyota Australia executive director manufacturing, Chris Harrod, stressed the necessity to reach a swift agreement.

“We will continue to work with our employees to determine the reasons for the unsuccessful vote,” Mr Harrod said.

“We’re keen to find a way to reach an agreement with our employees and the unions. We acknowledge that we need to better understand what the specific concerns are for our employees.”

Mr Campbell confirmed the Altona production plant is currently in an “unplanned shutdown period” which has been forced by last month’s industrial action.

Workers went on strike for five days in September, putting a serious dent in Toyota Australia’s ability to complete production of the current-generation Camry on schedule as well as prepare the factory for the new seventh-generation model.

Production of the new model has already been pushed back. The car was initially scheduled to hit the market in November, although we know understand the first examples are not likely to arrive in showrooms until the very end of 2011.

Mr Campbell confirmed the staggered shutdown that started yesterday (October 11) would run until next Wednesday (October 19) as the plant completes converting equipment and preparing the facilities for production of the new model.




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