The workers will finish up at the Altona North plant today when the final Camry rolls off the production line.
“(It’s) a very tragic day for Victoria because today marks the end of the car manufacturing industry … an industry that’s been running for now 90-odd years,” the union’s national vehicle division secretary Dave Smith told reporters outside the factory.
“All up today, there is about 6000 Victorians going to lose their jobs because Toyota is shutting.”
Union delegate Matthew Kinson has been with the company for 19 years, and is optimistic about his chances of getting a new job after Toyota paid for his truck licences.
“A lot of people are sad today but from where I stand, they should be proud of themselves,” Kinson said.
But the union fears many of the 2600 workers won’t be able to find new jobs, despite Toyota’s job skills training program.
Smith said only about half of Ford’s workers, who lost their jobs when the plants shut down a year ago, had found permanent, full-time work.
“On top of what’s happened to Ford workers, it will tell you that a lot will struggle to find full-time jobs. They’ll want full-time jobs, they just won’t be able to get them,” Smith said.
Toyota said its job skills program would continue for six months after Tuesday’s shutdown.
About 260 workers have indicated they will retire while 130 will be re-deployed in other parts of the company.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the loss of the car industry “did not have to happen”, but the move was forced when the government stopped financially supporting car markers.
Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan said the state government had spent more than $100 million on targeted assistance programs for automotive workers.
The Altona North plant closure marks the end of 92 years of Victorian car manufacturing, which began with the 1925 founding of Ford Australia in Geelong.
When Holden shuts its Adelaide plant on October 20, it will be the end of the road for Australian car manufacturing.
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