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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia and the unions have reached an in principle agreement over employee pay rates. The deal should bring to an end the industrial action that has hampered local production and factory retooling work over the past six weeks.

 

Toyota Australia this morning confirmed an in principle agreement had been reached with the unions, who will now take the new workplace agreement to their members to vote on.

The two parties agreed on a pay increase of 13 per cent over 42 months, to be backdated to September 6 (a few days after the initial strike on September 2). The agreement will lock in Toyota Australia’s production and parts centre employee’s pay rates until March 2015.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) spokesman David Smith confirmed the deal included a provision for employee bonuses and also sorted out some nagging issues relating to employee sick leave.

The package is divided to deliver a two per cent increase backdated to September 6, 2011, 2.5 per cent from April 2012, 3.25 per cent from April 2013, another 3.25 per cent from April 2014, and the final two per cent from September 2014.

The unions – headed by the AMWU and the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) – pushed hard for a 12 per cent pay raise over 36 months. Toyota Australia initially offered 11 per cent over 39 months, before revising that to a three-year term.

Mr Smith said meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with Toyota executives and Fair Work Australia included some “pretty tough bargaining” and said he was confident there was “certainly not any more forthcoming” from Toyota. He said the in principle agreement evaded what could have led to “another serious round of industrial action”.

As a result of the agreement, which was settled on Wednesday night, today’s planned industrial action has been cancelled. The ban on overtime has also been removed.

Toyota Australia’s 3300 employees will vote on the two new workplace agreements (one for the Altona staff, one for the Port Melbourne, Sydney and regional workers; although it is effectively one agreement), which will take place over the next couple of weeks.

Mr Smith said he believed the unions had achieved a “reasonable deal … under the circumstances”.

The employees are expected to endorse the new deal, which could take between two and three weeks to be finalised.

The Altona production plant does not return to full operation until next Wednesday (October 19), as it is currently in an ‘unplanned shutdown period’.

Five days of strikes in September forced Toyota Australia to implement the eight-day shutdown, which started on Tuesday. Toyota had planned a shutdown for the last week of September to equip the factory for production of the new seventh-generation Camry, but that was postponed as the strikes placed pressure on supply of the run-out model.

Although the launch of the new 2012 Toyota Camry has been delayed, the end to industrial action should see the new model hit showrooms just before the end of 2011.




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