Huge cranes dominate the Prospecton skyline where Toyota is building a giant new paint shop that will incorporate the most advanced paint technology, superior quality and high production volumes to feed growing local demand and growing exports.
The high concrete walls are nearing completion and the roof structures while only half finished already, add massive height and presence to the structure. Impressive as the structure may be, it is only part of what is going on and what is planned.
Toyota’s planned volumes will double by the end of 2007 producing the two South African flagship models, the HiLux and the Corolla. The assembly of Hino and Toyota trucks continues together with HiAce in the existing truck plant. A new press line to increase both HiLux and Corolla Volumes is under construction. Vast improvements to body technology and the assembly lines are ongoing. What does all this mean for Toyota and Toyota workers?
The vast investment by Toyota Japan in the South African economy is a vote in favour of the opportunities that South Africa represents. The MIDP programme is certainly a factor that invites motor manufacturers, including Toyota to increase their investments and to bring South Africa into the global network of motor manufacturing and exports.
The Japanese Government supports the vision of Toyota in South Africa through its increasing participation in African affairs. Japanese aid to Africa has increased by 60% since 2000. Japanese investments have increased tenfold since 1994. The Toyota investment in the paint shop alone will be R1 billion.
What about employment? Since the start of 2005 Toyota has employed more than 1000 new employees, most of whom are young and match the local demographics. There are increasing numbers of women in the workplace and for the first time racial integration on the shop floor.
As construction ends and production begins between now and 2007 there will be many more new workers. Satisfaction with the opportunities provided to so many youngsters prompted the ANCYL to march to the factory at Prospecton to present a memorandum thanking Toyota for employing so many young people from the area.
Where do we go from here?
We must realise that the jobs bonanza may end someday, therefore job creation remains an essential item on the Numsa agenda. We also need to unionise more of the new employees particularly female workers who are under the misapprehension that women do not have a future in promotion positions and are lucky to have their jobs.
We also need to ride on the MIDP wave to improve the living standards of our members. Numsa shop stewards must get out there and recruit the new, the young and the restless. And the new employees must join together with their fellow workers to prepare for an improved future.
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