Toyota, Layoffs, Stabbings, and Respect for People
I'm starting to cut Toyota less slack for their claims of not having laid off employees in over 50 years.
Japanese automaker Toyota has laid off 800 people at a plant in southwestern Japan, or about 10 percent of the plant's work force, in response to declining sales in North America, a company official said Tuesday.
All the job cuts â€” carried out in June and August at Toyota Motor Corp.'s wholly owned subsidiary Toyota Motor Kyushu â€” applied to workers sent by job-referral agencies. Japanese companies are increasingly relying on such agencies for temporary workers called “haken” to be flexible to market demand.
OK, they aren't employees… but they are people. The Toyota Way principles include the “respect for humanity” – not just “respect for employees.”
I never realized the guy who went on the stabbing spree in Japan was a Toyota contract worker until I read this article.
The trend toward these temporary workers drew alarm in Japan when a disgruntled haken employee at a Toyota affiliate went on stabbing spree in June in a crowded Tokyo shopping district, killing seven and injuring 10.
The remarks of Tomohiro Kato, the 25-year-old haken worker, expressing frustrations about job stability and getting treated with no respect, added to the public worries about the trend.
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This doesn't shake my belief that Lean and TPS methods (and the management system) are the best options we have for improving manufacturing, healthcare and other industries. It does, though, highlight that Toyota is not perfect, in their following of their principles or in their treatment of people. I don't know the details of “no respect” at the Toyota, but constantly having to worry about being laid off can certainly feel disrespectful.
This shouldn't discredit Lean, though. It just shows how hard it can be for anyone to live up to the high ideals set forth in the Toyota Way.