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Local car suppliers shed jobs
Australian automotive industry downturn forces job cuts in component sector
1 Sep 2008
By TERRY MARTIN
FEDERAL industry minister Kim Carr’s acknowledgement at the Bracks automotive review launch late last month that as many as a third of Australia’s major component manufacturers were in “a distressed state” rang true last week when planned job cuts at component suppliers PBR, Unidrive and AME Systems were revealed.
Putting further pressure on the government not to reduce vehicle import tariffs in Australia, the latest job losses came within a week of Ford Australia announcing 350 redundancies and a reduction in plant operating hours at its Geelong and Broadmeadows facilities from November.
In a further blow to Australian vehicle manufacturing, Kenworth Trucks also announced last week that it would shed 80 jobs at its Melbourne plant.
On Wednesday, driveshaft manufacturer Unidrive announced that 40 workers would be sacked from its Melbourne operations.
On Thursday, electrical wiring supplier AME Systems confirmed that 40 jobs would be lost at its Ararat plant in regional Victoria, while on the same day the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) revealed that brake component manufacturer PBR was moving calliper work to the US, which would result in 80 workers being made redundant at its East Bentley factory in suburban Melbourne.
In June, Holden announced that it would cease production of four-cylinder engines at its Fishermens Bend engine plant in Port Melbourne late next year, threatening 530 jobs, and South Pacific Tyres announced that almost 600 jobs would be lost when it closed its Melbourne factory at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, three months after Jaguar Land Rover was sold to Indian car giant Tata Motors, British 4WD manufacturer Land Rover has announced that it will scale back production – and overseas reports have indicated that 95 jobs would be cut at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood site in Liverpool during September, and that almost 300 Land Rover workers would transfer from Solihull, Birmingham, to build the Jaguar XF at the nearby Castle Bromwich plant.
The move is designed to offset the global reduction in SUV sales with the current strong demand for the XF.
An AFP report said Land Rover management told its employees on Friday that only a “small percentage” of its annual production would be cut, with one day in the week shaved from Discovery and Range Rover Sport assembly from September, and night-shift production of Range Rovers halted from October. Solihull employs around 5000 people.
The move follows an announcement last month that three “non-production days” would be held during September, and that line speed would also be reduced, for the Jaguar X-Type and Land Rover Freelander built in Halewood.
Last weekend, the Liverpool Daily Post reported that 55 agency staff and 40 temporary workers at Halewood were told by uniion officials last Friday that their contracts were being terminated on September 16. An official announcement is still to be made.
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