Record loss sees Mitsubishi slash Australian jobs

Kyodo

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd. said Thursday it will cut 600 manufacturing jobs in an effort to restructure following a record annual loss last year.

Norio Takehara, managing director of Mitsubishi’s Australian company, said an after-tax loss of $130.1 million Australian ($75.5 million) to Dec. 31, 1999, was the result of adverse currency exchange movements, global overproduction and decreasing demand in Australia.

“Our parent company, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., has made it clear that we have to address costs to become profitable, therefore we must undertake strategic restructuring to guarantee Mitsubishi Motors’ strong future,” he said in a statement.

Mitsubishi has engine and assembly plants in Adelaide, South Australia, that currently employ 4,000 people.

But a 17 percent fall in Mitsubishi’s sales in 1999 to about 70,000 vehicles has fueled speculation about the future of the plants.

In Tokyo on Wednesday, Mitsubishi Motors President Katsuhiko Kawasoe said there was a possibility the Australian plants could be shut. if they do not restructure successfully.

“It has to become break-even or profitable. I hope the plants can restructure properly, the business will be profitable and will not be closed,” he said. on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Takehara said the local company would try to cut staff through voluntary redundancies and that the company remained optimistic about its performance in 2000.

“This difficult decision will help us to achieve a leaner and more robust management structure that will guarantee the future of core operations for Adelaide and the jobs of thousands of Australians,” he said.