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Temporary workers in the auto industry are increasingly losing their jobs. Toyota, Nissan, Matsuda and small companies also are dismissing them.

11, 11. 2008

   Massive dismissal of workers sent by staffing agencies and other temporary workers has begun. Following Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. have also started massive personnel cuts as they are reducing production at their plants in Japan. Many temporary workers are subjected to the personnel reduction. This move reflects sluggish auto sales not only in Japan but also in the United States and other countries in the world as a result of the worldwide financial crisis.

From big to smaller companies, all are resorting to restructuring

   Toyota Motor had reduced the number of temporary workers at its plants in Japan by about 20% over a period of six months to the end of September 2008. By halting the employing of new temporary workers and taking other steps, the number of such workers was reduced from the monthly average of 8,800 in March to about 6,800 in September. Overlapping the sluggish domestic sales, the overseas sales, especially in the United States that supported the sales growth, went down seriously.

   Nissan Motor is expected to reduce the number of temporary workers at its Tochigi and Kyushu assembly plants by about 780 over the period from November this year to the end of March 2009. Nissan produces large cars at these plants, such as the Infinity cars for exports at the Tochigi plant and the sports-type SUV Murano cars at the Kyushu plants. The company has decided to cut down the products at the two plants to cope with sluggish exports.

   The account settlement Mazda announced on Oct. 30 for the second quarter showed that its global sales decreased by 6% on year to 701,000 units. The company also announced on the same day that its consolidated operating profit forecast for the term ending in March 2009 was revised downward by 25 billion yen to 90 billion yen. The forecast of its current net profit was also revised downward by 20 billion yen to 50 billion yen. Its domestic production during the second half will be cut down by 73,000 units. The plants subjected to the production cuts will be those at the headquarters in Hiroshima and the Bofu plant. The number of the workers to be reduced is now being adjusted. But it is certain that the workers to be dismissed will be mostly temporary employees.

Thousands may be fired by 2009

   As the productions will be reduced at the plants of the major carmakers, their subcontractors supplying parts to them will naturally be forced to cut their employment. The parts maker Tanaka Seimitsu Kogyo Co., which is listed on Jasdaq, is to dismiss 72 part-time workers at its production facilities by the end of December. Tanaka operates nine plants in the country, including those of its affiliates. Of a total of 1,139 employees of Tanaka as a whole, including those working overseas, 267 are part-time workers.

   One of the temporary workers at Toyota had his contract expired in September. He was living in the company dormitory for unmarried workers, but he was forced to leave the dormitory at the time of the expiration of his contract. He could have chosen to return to his home town in Saitama Prefecture, but he is still looking for a new job in Aichi Prefecture with help from the labor union All Toyota Union (ATU). As he has no place to stay, he is moving from his friend's house to friend's house.

   Many of the workers provided by stuffing agencies live in company dormitories. Short-term temporary workers stay at company dormitories for three to six months. The periods of the stay would be two years and 11 months at longest. Tadao Wakatsuki, the executive leader of the ATU, said that it is easy for companies to fire workers hired on limited-term contracts. "As the business condition sharply got worse (as a result of the financial crisis that started in the United States), I feel the dismissal of the workers happened so suddenly."

   "There is a problem destined the workers face in 2009," Wakatsuki said. What he meant was that the temporary workers who were hired while the business condition was good on contracts for the term of two years and 11 months will face the expiration date of the contracts all at around the same time in 2009. The number of such workers must be in the range of thousands. Unless the economic condition recovers by then, those workers are destined to lose their jobs and they won't know where to go.

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