Some 300 plant workers at Toyota were made redundant yesterday, and a further 50 are expected today. While redundancies are a necessary reality of restructuring, the car manufacturer has come under fire from workers who say the method of the process was needlessly cruel and humiliating.
According to reports, workers who were sacked will receive four weeks' redundancy pay for every year of service, and the cap was increased from 75 to 90 weeks – by all accounts an offering far in excess of its legal requirements. Yet this was lost amid reports of an overbearing security presence, and workers having already endured months in limbo after the redundancies were flagged in January.
A Toyota spokeswoman said the offers made to redundant workers had been agreed with the union last week, and the entire workforce was assessed – those with the lowest scores in behaviour, skills and knowledge were let go. Toyota said it was “a very difficult day” for the company and it wanted to make sure that its employees were treated with respect by providing one-on-one meetings. It says services, including counselling and a free job centre, have been organised to provide assistance.
However speaking to media last night Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said he had concerns over the way the workers were sacked. “You can do these things in a dignified fashion,” he commented.
The Toyota spokeswoman confirmed the assessments related to workplace behaviour, skills and knowledge, including their adherence to the company's values. “It's things like respect for people, continuous improvement and teamwork. It's about whether they show these values at work,” the spokesperson said. Workers were also assessed on whether they attended work on time, their standard of uniform, their communication skills and their adherence to safety protocols. Minister Shorten said workers were clearly made to feel they were let go for being a slacker, and that is not the case.
Dr Hilary Armstrong from the Institute of Executive Coaching said a vital ingredient of effective redundancies is assuring the employee that it was not about their skills and capabilities in the job, and essentially that it’s not personal. She added it is paramount that the support package on offer is effectively communicated.
Picture: Hobsons Bay Leader
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