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Toyota Line Workers Warned Top Officials of Safety Problems In 2006

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Toyota’s mistakes continue to abound: recent reports indicate that several veteran assembly line workers warned senior management of their increasing concerns over the safety of Toyota vehicles several years before the recent sudden acceleration problems and other safety issues. The six veteran workers knew they could lose their jobs, but decided to send the memo to top Toyota officials anyway back in 2006. They simply could not sit by idly as they watched a troubling trend continue. That is, with an increasing U.S. demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, the automaker had kicked production into high gear. But that wasn’t all they did—while also increasing production, they made drastic cuts to safety and manpower to lower production costs—a move that the veteran workers feared would cost Toyota its reputation in the future. They were right.

In the memo, the workers stated:

  • That from 2000 to 2005 Toyota had recalled more than 5 million cars, or 36% of all vehicles sold, a rate higher than other companies.
  • That Toyota’s failure to act on the worker’s concerns may "become a great problem that involves the company’s survival."
  • They also added: "We are concerned about the processes which are essential for producing safe cars, but that ultimately may be ignored, with production continued in the name of competition."

The workers didn’t need to worry about the safety of their jobs, as they previously had. Instead, after presenting the letter to management, they were simply ignored and business continued as usual. Nevertheless, Toyota officials recently stated that they could not confirm that they received the memo and did not comment any further on the veteran workers’ allegations.

The assembly workers also cited deterioration in the working condition of Japanese factories, as well as a decline in product quality. In fact, assembly worker Tadao Wakatsuki, age 62 and a 30-year Toyota veteran, recently gave a litany of concerns in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, including increased outsourcing of key design work and a shorter trial-and-error period for testing new vehicles.


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  1. do your homework says:
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    As a former toyota employee i disagree with this article. this is NOT the norm for toyota. During my 2 years with toyota I held many position in different areas of manufacturing and quality control and had interaction at all levels. We went to great length to protect quality and safety. I trust toyota quality and that’s why I have alway owned toyota vehicles. And next week I will be purchasing another. Someone did dropped the ball that caused this recall but there is not as bad as other manufactures.

    Ford 2008 12 million Lincoln and Mercury SUVs, pickups, cars, and vans of model years ‘93 to ‘04 cruise control had a nasty habit of catching fire

    Ford 1996 (8.6 million vehicles):In 1996, after customers complained of fires caused by faulty ignition systems, recalled vehicles including 1998-’93 Escorts, Mustangs, Tempos, Thunderbirds, Cougars, Crown Vics, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Cars, Aerostars, Broncos, and F-series trucks.

    GM 2004 (3.6 million vehicles): From 1999 to 2004 on Silverados, Sierras, Escalades, and Avalanches. Tail gates injured 134 people.