The Toyota redundancies: an HR botch-job?

by Stephanie Zillman17 Apr 2012

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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COMMENTS

  • by Helen 17/04/2012 2:43:47 PM

    Why do we have to use the work "sacked?" The workers have been made redundant due to production losses? The word sacked is used so liberally no wonder the workers feel humiliated, the meaning of both words conjure up a completely different message one of being a victim of the climate and one of being a poor employee. What has happened is workers have been the scapegoat of poor management, union and media hype – let’s put all this negative energy into the Yarra and help support a return to work and re training program for these people – using the word “sacked” is not doing any favours for re employment is it?

  • by Sarah 17/04/2012 2:58:15 PM

    I fail to see why your headline was HR botch job.... They are being paid redundancy entitlements, they had on site counselling and outplacement, they has one on one conversations....where is the botch up exactly? Mist redundancy processes take a few months - particularly of the company is open about it with their employees and cost cutting measures haven't provided the necessary business savings. They did have security which perhaps in most industries wouldn't be required but this is a manufacturing plant with predominantly blue collar workforce and they may have felt the need to prepare for the worst.
    I agree with the prior comment - the use of the word 'sacked' as opposed to made redundant, retrenched, laid off etc has a bad connotation. But HC, enough with the HR bashing that we see all too frequently in your headlines. In this unfortunate circumstance, by all accounts HR has done their job.

  • by Tony 17/04/2012 3:08:46 PM

    "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." And having security people brought in to escort people off the premises is showing respect for people at work? I wonder how the apparent breach of Toyota's values will affect those still with jobs?

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