A Federal Court ruling halting any variations to Toyota Australia's workplace agreement is the latest roadblock threatening the car maker's local manufacturing future.
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Justice Mordy Bromberg yesterday supported four Toyota Australia employees who lodged a complaint with the Federal Court arguing that the company could not vary the conditions of its workplace agreement until the current contract expired in March 2015.

Bromberg directed Toyota Australia to stop any action to vary the workplace agreement, including the employee vote that was scheduled to take place today.

Toyota Australia flagged changes to its workplace agreement in October, announcing the need to take “urgent action” if it was to shore up the future of its local manufacturing operations.

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION - Corprate portraits, President Max Yasuda

Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda maintains it is lawful for the car maker to change the conditions of its employee pay deal and insists it is a crucial element of the company’s goal to reduce the cost of each car it builds by $3800 by 2018.

“We believe that we are within our rights to vary our workplace agreement provided the majority of our employees support the changes through a formal vote,” Yasuda said.

“The company is doing everything that it can to secure the future for our employees and their families.”

Yasuda reiterated that Holden’s decision to cease production in 2017 placed “unprecedented pressure” on its manufacturing operations and local supplier network, insisting it was now “more important than ever before” that it made urgent changes to its workplace agreement.

“A decision will be made next year on the next-generation Camry and export program and we need to take urgent action if we want to stay at the negotiating table for future investments,” he said.

“The proposed changes were designed to remove outdated and uncompetitive terms and conditions that make it difficult to compete with other Toyota plants throughout the world.”

2012 Toyota Camry Atara SL

Regardless of the Federal Court injunction, Toyota Australia’s proposed workplace agreement changes faced an uphill battle, with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union refusing to support the proposal and encouraging employees to do the same at today’s planned vote.

Yasuda said in October the company wanted to stand by its commitment to honour the two scheduled pay raises for its 2500-strong workforce in 2014, but would have to find ways to offset the savings required to meet its productivity and efficiency targets.

Toyota Australia confirmed last month a decision would be made in the first half of next year on whether it would build the next-generation Camry from 2015 or close its local manufacturing operations.

The company is currently considering its options in relation to the Federal Court’s ruling, including whether it will appeal the decision.