Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 19th January 2017
Employees at the Toyota manufacturing plant in Derbyshire are facing an uncertain future with the Japanese carmaker seriously concerned about its prospects in a UK economy that’s outside the EU’s single market.
The company’s chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told the Financial Times in recent days that Toyota’s UK plants will need to become more competitive if they are to be maintained once Britain is officially out of the EU.
Responding to prime minister Theresa May’s recent declarations on how a more isolated British economy might function, Toyota’s chairman also said that his company and its suppliers in the UK will be focussing primarily on survival for the foreseeable future.
All of which could potentially have very a damaging impact on employment in places like Burnaston in Derbyshire, where Toyota has a very sizable manufacturing facility and a workforce numbering more than 2,500.
Toyota is not yet announcing layoffs but the carmaker’s operations in the UK could soon be scaled back and agency staff at its Burnaston plant have reportedly already been informed that their jobs could be at risk.
According to the Derby Telegraph, the recruitment firm Blue Arrow has written to dozens of staff on its books who have been working at Toyota’s Burnaston facility to let them know that their services might soon no longer be required.
The likely ramifications of the UK’s exit from the European Union and its single market are currently far from clear to anyone, including politicians, economists and large-scale employers like Toyota.
Carmakers though have been among the first big businesses to express real concerns that taking Britain out of the EU and the single market could make it considerably more difficult to grow their operations in the UK.
The consequences could eventually be sizable job losses at some companies and potentially even the disappearance of major employers in various parts of the country.
Clearly, the hope for Theresa May and the rest of us will be that any negative consequences of pulling out of the EU will be offset by positive consequences elsewhere in the economy but for now the future is distinctly uncertain.
Unfortunately, if major regional employers like Toyota scale back their operations in the UK, the knock-on effects are likely to be felt by lots of smaller local businesses and their workforces, as well as those people employed either directly or indirectly by the company.
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