Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another 600 Jobs Chopped at GMH...



Without warning and with no consultation, Holden dropped a bombshell on the workforce at its Elizabeth plant in Adelaide on Monday. Six hundred jobs are to be axed and workers are being given two weeks to decide whether to accept the redundancy packages being offered by the company.

“There are a lot of workers scratching their heads in regards to how they come to the figures of 600 full-time highly skilled workers,” AMWU State Secretary John Camillo said. The cuts are being imposed in spite of vehicle sales being up eight per cent on February last year. It is GM’s way of thanking its workforce for improved efficiency and higher productivity at the Elizabeth plant by saying fewer workers will be needed. The productivity gains achieved by the workers will be pocketed by the US-based transnational.

Management claims the discontinuation of superseded VZ-based models also dictates the slashing of the workforce. In their media statements, company spokespersons have not answered criticism that they have put local production at risk by focusing exclusively on the big car market and leaving it to imported vehicles to compete in the growing small and medium-sized vehicle market.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane claims to be disappointed with Holden’s decision to savage its workforce. “I have a great deal of sympathy for the workers at Holden, those made redundant are facing an uncertain time, but the Commonwealth Government will work with Holden to ensure that the workers’ transition to new jobs is as untraumatic (sic) as possible,” he said.

The government’s sympathies do not extend far enough for it to reconsider the tariff cuts being planned for the car industry in 2010 and 2015. If the cuts are not rescheduled, grave fears are held for the future of car making in Australia. The flow-on effect on second and third-tier parts suppliers would compound the devastating effects expected in local employment.

AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron points out that more than 200 jobs have been lost from manufacturing industry every week since the Howard Government came to office. “The government’s got a hands-off approach to manufacturing. They are quite content to see Australia become a quarry, a farm and a tourist destination, said Mr Cameron.

The AMWU’s national agenda to save Australian manufacturing includes more investment in research and development so Australians do not have to compete with other countries on wages.

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