Toyota Lays Off 800 Temp Workers

Reduction in Japanese factory due to slumping North American sales

The Toyota Motor group has laid off 800 temporary workers at a factory in Japan due to slumping sales in North America, a company official said Tuesday. A wholly owned Toyota subsidiary on the southwestern island of Kyushu laid off 350 temporary workers in June and 450 in July, a company official said. The move, accounting for some 10% of the plant's employees, was the largest ever workforce reduction by the unit. "The cut was mainly due to a slump in sales in the North American market, which forced us to cut production," a company official said, adding that the company plans to raise the number of jobs later this year. The unit, Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc., produces the Lexus and other models. About 60% of them are exported to North America. Toyota said Friday its U.S. sales slumped 18.7% in July from a year ago as it struggled to meet fierce demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Toyota Motor also announced plans Tuesday to make its South African subsidiary a wholly owned unit by acquiring the remaining 25% stake from joint venture partner Wesco Investments Ltd. Toyota is due to report fiscal first-quarter results on Aug. 7. Copyright Agence France-Presse 2008

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