Big automotive players start to feel pinch

Published by rudy Date posted on February 6, 2009

Big players in the local automotive industry have been hit by the global slowdown in consumer demand as Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) reduced their production of Innova and Vios by 10 percent, Nissan Motor Philippines Inc. implemented a four-day work week and retrenched 16 percent of its workers while Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Philippines instituted a rightsizing program.

In an interview, Angel Dimalanta, president of the Automotive Industrial Workers Alliance (AIWA), said Toyota has removed one shift every week. Instead of producing Vios and Innova on their Laguna plant, Dimalanta said the plant workers were asked to do maintenance work.

Dimalanta said the Toyota Plant in Sta. Rosa operates five days a week. Each day is divided into two eight hour shifts. He said one of the Monday shift has been cancelled since mid January.

According to Dimalanta, a total of 40 units are being produced each shift or 20 units of Innova and 20 units of Vios.

Before the cancellation of one of the Monday shifts, Dimalanta said the plant produces 400 units per week.

He said he does not know until when the reduced shift will last. “There is no definite date. It will be like this until the market improves,” he said.

Toyota’s target production for this year is 12,000 units.

When asked about the 10 percent reduction in production, Toyota vice president Rommel T. Gutierrez said “our production continues with some rationalization of costs to manage our overhead.” Gutierrez refused to elaborate on the matter.

On the upside, Dimalanta said there is no retrenchment in Toyota. He estimated that Toyota has almost 1,500 workers. “At the moment, there are no retrenchments. In fact, we have recently regularized 95 line workers.”

 “The union protects us. If there will be job losses the management will go first because they do not have a union,” Dimalanta added.

Meanwhile, Nissan confirmed that they have reduced their six-day work week to five and sometimes four days in order to cut costs.

In an interview with The STAR, Val de Leon, vice president for administration and corporate planning of Nissan confirmed that it has removed 15.63 percent or 50 of their 320 workers this month.

“This is our last retrenchment for this year,” de Leon said. In fact, he said they are looking at replacing some of those that they retrenched.

With regards to the shorter working days, De Leon said the company had two choices either shorter work days or fire more people.

“We had two options. We could work the full week and operate with lesser manpower or retain most of the workers but shorter number of workdays,” he noted.

De Leon said Nissan had a six-day work week but had to reduce it to five or even four days sometimes. However, he clarified that this is not something new. “Of course the crisis had an effect but we have been doing this in the past already.”

For Mitsubishi meanwhile, Frank Mero, president of the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA) said their company offered a retirement package in line with their rightsizing program.–Ma. Elisa P. Osorio, Philippine Star

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