Strike may threaten new model

ADAPAZARI, Turkey (Reuters) – A threatened strike by Turkish glassworkers could halt all production of Toyota Motor Corp’s new Corolla Verso, which is built only in Turkey, the head of Toyota’s Turkish arm said on Thursday. Glassworkers’ union Kristal-Is has launched a court appeal against a Turkish government ban on a strike to demand more pay and the reinstatement of dismissed colleagues. «Without one part, we cannot produce a vehicle,» Koji Kobayashi, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey (TMMT), told Reuters. «(If there is a strike) we will stop our production, especially our new Corolla Verso. It’s an exclusive model, only produced in this country. We have no backup.» The strike would affect Turkish glassmaker Sise Cam, which supplies 90 percent of glass components for Turkey’s buoyant auto industry. Workers began strikes in October and late January, but each time the government slapped a 60-day ban on the action. It was not clear when the country’s top administrative court would deliver its verdict on the union appeal against the ban. Kobayashi said another strike by Turkish tire workers, announced but not yet started, was less of a threat because tires could be sourced from Toyota’s other European operations. But glass for the seven-seater Corolla Verso multipurpose vehicle (MPV) would be impossible to find elsewhere, and the Japanese carmaker’s «just-in-time» production methods meant it kept only very small inventories to cut storage costs. «We don’t have one month’s stock, two months’ stock – just half a day’s,» Kobayashi said. The Corolla Verso, designed for West European tastes, went into production recently at Toyota’s export-oriented Adapazari plant, 120 km (75 miles) east of Istanbul. Company officials said exports would begin in late March or April. Toyota has said it expects to sell 62,000 of the new MPVs in Europe this year, and is investing some 180 million euros to boost capacity.

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