The pain from Toyota’s long-awaited Australian exit is forecast to stretch far beyond the car manufacturer’s 2600 out-of-work employees.
After the last Camry rolled off the Altona North production line on Tuesday, a sprawling network of supply chain workers also prepared to embrace joblessness.
“All up today, there is about 6000 Victorians going to lose their jobs because Toyota is shutting down,” the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Dave Smith told reporters.
Ballarat-based OzPress, for example, was “95 per cent Toyota”, owner Mark Dwyer said.
“We’ve gone from 30 people to five,” he told AAP.
“We’ll keep going in a small way and, hopefully, rebuild over time.”
Toyota’s departure marks the end of more than 90 years of Victorian car manufacturing, which began with Ford at Geelong in 1925.
The nation’s car manufacturing industry will reach the end of the road when Holden rolls out of Adelaide on October 20.
Newly unemployed Toyota workers are optimistic, but concerned about the future.
“A lot of us haven’t had a job interview here for 20-odd years. It’s changed since we came here, filled out a bit of paper and walked in the door and started the next day,” Matthew Kinson told reporters.
“My concern now is that the job market is casual. We’ve got it good here, we’ve got good terms and conditions and very good wages.”
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the car industry was a crucial part of the Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry and Toyota workers were “betrayed” by the federal government’s failure to value the sector.
“You can import a car, but you can’t import a generation of people of who have built up critical skills over a lifetime in manufacturing,” she said.
The AMWU said only about half of Ford’s workers – who lost their jobs when the manufacturer left Victoria a year ago – had moved into permanent, full-time work.
Toyota announced its departure from Australian car manufacturing in 2014, and says it has since put more than 2200 workers through a job skills program, which will continue for another six months.
About 260 workers previously indicated they would retire after Tuesday, while 130 were being deployed into other areas of the company.
“The company will continue to provide the Australian market with a diverse range of high-quality vehicles,” Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner said in a statement.
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.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says car manufacturers were leaving in response to changing markets, not a lack of subsidies, valued at about $7 billion since 2001.
Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan says the state government has spent more than $100 million on targeted assistance programs for automotive workers.