Peter Cook has spent almost three decades working for Toyota in Melbourne but in less than a week he’s due to become one of thousands of new job seekers.
“I’ve applied for 20 jobs and I’ve had 19 knock-backs, and I’ve got a lot of qualifications,” Mr Cook told AAP on Thursday.
He was still hopeful about the 20th application, but Mr Cook’s anxiety about his future isn’t a one-off story.
Toyota will shut down its Altona factory on Tuesday, putting more than 2700 workers out of a job.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Tony Hynds says up to five times that number of workers will be affected through the component supply chain.
Toyota has done well providing retraining for workers, but it was still a tough job market for people in their 40s and 50s, the union official said.
The company on Thursday said it would continue its job skills training program for six months after manufacturing stops.
“Many employees have taken the opportunity to develop their skills to start their own small business, in areas as varied as nutrition, landscaping, brewing and photography,” Toyota said in a statement.
About 130 people will be redeployed into new sales and marketing jobs, while 260 workers have indicated they will retire, the company says.
David Borg works at MHG Plastics making components for Toyota and he is facing an uncertain future with his wife and two children.
“There’s nothing we can really do,” he told AAP.
“They’ve already told us they’re getting rid of 20 workers across the board.”
Some are happy to retire, but wife Deborah Borg said that wasn’t an option for a lot of families involved in Toyota’s car manufacturing supply chain.
“Some people might be happy to take the redundancy but we’re not in that situation where we could settle,” she said.
“It hurts everybody.”
Many workers from Ford’s defunct Victorian factories were forced to take fly-in, fly-out work, Mr Hynds said, adding that he hoped Toyota staff could stay in the industry.
“Other people, after speaking to them last night, they’re going to go out and start digging holes, go into construction, go into gardening,” he said.
“Certainly we’ll have challenges in the union in relation to membership.”
Toyota stopped building Aurion vehicles in August and Camry hybrids in September.
The final Camry petrol car will roll off the assembly line on Tuesday and Toyota says it will hold an internal event to mark the occasion.