The front page of the AFR had a great piece yesterday on the Toyota redundancies.
Unions said workers were marked on a range of criteria that included:
■ the “Toyota way” and corporate values;
■ safety, including wearing of uniform and proper equipment;
■ work quality, performance, problem solving and troubleshooting;
■ skill and teamwork;
■ work standards and diligence;
■ technical skills.
Looks to me that the criteria was ‘do you turn up and do your job?’. Unsurprisingly some union officials got caught out by that requirement. Union members and union officials are required to work for a living the same as everyone else. If Toyota is paying your pay check then you work for them.
So that was yesterday.
Today the AFR has more. Paul Gollan writes
Such highly developed organisationally based systems fit uncomfortably with Australia’s traditional industrial relations system. Historically, Australia’s system is built on conflict of interests and the imbalance of power in the employment relationship, and strong collective bargaining and industrial-based unions and awards.
The notion of having some objective value-add measure of whom to employ and who to let go is foreign to Australian IR? If so, the IR system is inconsistent with value-adding employment. As the AFR editorial says
Toyota Australia’s move to make redundant workers who it believes have not performed or do not share its values is a direct challenge to the worst aspects of Australia’s industrial relations culture. It should be a cause for national embarrassment that it has taken a paragon of worker co-operation to blow the whistle. Toyota’s decision to select workers at its Altona manufacturing plant for redundancy, based on a series of criteria including performance ability, attitude and attendance, is certainly without extensive precedent in the Australian workplace. Nor is it typical behaviour for the car maker, which is known internationally for its co-operative, quality-focused approach to management and production which depends on a harmonious and non-adversarial relationship with its workforce.
By and large, the redundant Toyota workers are victims of an adversarial workplace culture and an inflexible industrial relations system. Toyota says it consulted extensively with its unions, which it says agreed to the selection criteria for the redundancies. Typically, redundancies are either voluntary or are decided on a last-in-first-off basis – a convention which has allowed union insiders to keep control of workplaces. This time, however, the company has asserted its right to manage and to build the more productive workforce which is crucial to its viability.