Toyota has proved itself as a worldwide respected company and brand, and has won a string of notable accomplishments for the past few years. The company is today a prized asset and pride of Japan.
However, this does not come without its adverse consequences.
Despite named as the world’s most reputable company recently, the Japanese automaker has been under intense criticism after questions were raised about its labor practice, an aspect of operation which has never been questioned before.
In the last 12 months, two Toyota worker died, reported to have been cause by stress at work. And a few months ago, a temp employee went berserk, ran amok and stabbed 7 people to death and left 10 others injured in Akihabara, Tokyo. Before the incident, the 25-year old worker has been expressing his concern and frustration over lack of job stability and respect at work.
In 2007, two Japanese journalists published a book, “The Dark Side of Toyota” which depicts and paints the pictures of the bulk of Toyota workers, many of which were deprived of a balanced work style and has to commit to work dedication and loyalty. Part of the book reported that “Workers aren’t machines… They get sick… and they make mistake…. The Toyota system fails to recognize any of that. It appears to be an extremely rational system. But it is, in fact, totally irrational.”
Much of the criticism is centered around the handling of the temporary workers, who get lower pay, lack of benefits and are subject to lay off at any time.
But permanent workers are not spared.
In 2002, a quality control executive collapsed and died of heart failure in the Toyota Tsutsumi plant. Upon his death, his widow revealed that her husband frequently came back from work after midnight. He only slept a few hours per day. The court later ruled that the worker died of overwork after doing more than 100 hours of overtime, much of it was not paid.