by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) April 14, 2011
Car giant Ford said Thursday it will shed 240 jobs in Australia and cut daily production by 20 percent, while Toyota scaled back work hours due to supply problems after Japan's quake-tsunami.
Ford said the decision was made after a slump in demand for large cars, such as the Falcon and Territory, with plans to redeploy workers at its Geelong and Broadmeadows plants in Victoria state "wherever possible".
Voluntary redundancy packages would be offered where alternative roles were not an option.
"We believe the actions we're taking now will stabilise our (vehicle) volumes going forward," Ford Australia president Bob Graziano told reporters.
He said 240 jobs would be cut from July, bringing the company's manufacturing workforce down from 1,800 employees to 1,560, and its total staff from 3,400 to 3,160.
Production would be cut from 260 to 209 cars a day.
Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr said: "Unfortunately, commercial decisions have meant that Ford needs to re-balance its operations to meet the demands of the market," he said.
"The government is very concerned at any job losses in manufacturing, and especially concerned at job losses in Australia's automotive manufacturing industry."
In a double blow, Toyota said the effect of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan meant manufacturing workers at its Altona plant, also in Victoria, will work a half-day shift from May 9.
"It is important to note that this is a necessary response to a short-term supply issue and we intend to resume 100 percent vehicle production as quickly as possible," said manufacturing director Chris Harrod.
"Our focus is on ensuring optimum stock management to reduce the impact on customers of the immediate production shortfalls. It may be difficult to avoid some inconvenience for some customers."
Canberra extended a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to the nation's ailing auto industry at the height of the global financial crisis, after Ford cut 450 jobs.
It also offered Holden -- Australia's third major auto firm -- a Aus$200 million ($210 million) credit line in 2009 after US parent General Motors filed for bankruptcy, handing 60 percent of the company to Washington.
Holden returned to profit this month for the first time in five years.
The auto industry employs almost 60,000 people according to the latest government data, with 14.1 percent of the 1.04 million new cars sold last year in Australia locally made, and exports valued at Aus$3.6 billion.
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