Toyota Motor Corp. is laying off about 5,000 temporary staff employed by partner agencies as it extends the shutdown of its North American auto plants a third time, citing the coronavirus outbreak and weak demand.
The Japanese automaker will continue to provide benefits for what it refers to as its variable workforce, and they may be eligible for unemployment, according to an emailed statement. Toyota’s North American unit now intends to reopen factories in the U.S., Canada and Mexico on May 4, two weeks later than planned.
Toyota initially announced plans to resume operations as early as March 25 but has now pushed back its planned restart date three times. The company is joining Japanese peers Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. and German carmaker BMW AG in cutting off pay to thousands of American workers as social-distancing measures force manufacturers to stay shut.
Full-time Toyota production workers will continue to be paid, though the company is asking them to either use two paid-time-off days during the longer shutdown or forgo two days of pay. On Tuesday, Honda and Nissan said they would temporarily stop paying all staff at their idled U.S. plants and ask them to file for state unemployment benefits. Honda said 16,900 employees are affected, while Nissan said it’s furloughing 10,000.
Toyota’s U.S. sales plunged 37% last month to just 135,730 cars and trucks, its worst March since 2011, when a tsunami hit Japan and disrupted North American imports of vehicles and parts. Industrywide, U.S. deliveries ran at the slowest pace in a decade and are expected to fall further in the months to come.