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Seatbelt maker refutes overseas shift rumour

Here to stay: Ford Australia's Falcon uses safety systems made by Autoliv Australia.

Autoliv denies radio rumour that it intends to go offshore in heat of union action

General News logo20 Aug 2009

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIA’S only automotive seatbelt and airbag maker, Autoliv Australia Pty Ltd, has denied a rumour aired on a Melbourne radio station that it is planning to move its manufacturing operations offshore.

The company – which supplies Toyota and Ford in Australia and export customers in up to 12 countries – blamed tensions over negotiations for a new three-year worker enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) for the ‘rumour’ on 3AW’s Rumour File on Monday.

Although the company was not named, the unidentified informant told radio listeners that “a Campbellfield seatbelt manufacturer” was intending to close its factory and relocate its operations overseas.

Autoliv Australia managing director Seamus Power said the company had no plans to close its Australian manufacturing operations and was attempting to negotiate a three-year EBA with its workers at the factory and safety test centre near Ford’s Broadmeadows assembly plant in Melbourne’s north.

He said the rumour had triggered a flood of enquiries from worried customers, suppliers, industry organisations, community leaders and others.

“We are not going to shift – there’s nothing in it,” he told GoAuto, adding that the rumour was “laughable”.

80 center imageMr Power said that like other Australian auto industry suppliers, Autoliv had suffered a tough couple of years due to the major downturn in local and export car manufacturing.

He said he suspected the fact that Autoliv had made workers a modest pay offer for the first two years of the EBA and then a more substantial reward in the third year had led to the rumour that the company was preparing to withdraw after two years.

Mr Power said a strike and union picket line had been planned for Tuesday, but did not eventuate after intervention by Fair Work Australia – the national workplace relations tribunal.

He said negotiations on the EBA were continuing. A hearing before Fair Work Commissioner Gay was scheduled for today.

Autoliv is a Swedish-based company that has 80 facilities in 30 vehicle-producing countries. It is regarded as one of the premier car safety systems developers and manufacturers in the world.

In Australia, it makes airbags, seatbelts, steering wheels, crash sensors, child restraints and a variety of after-market safety devices such as pet car harnesses under the Autoliv and Klippan brands at the Campbellfield factory where, according to its page on the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers web site, it has 270 workers.

It also runs a major crash-testing and research facility with its factory, doing research for its own products and external customers, including car makers and importers.

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