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Holden HQ joins down time

Quiet: Most workers at Holden's Port Melbourne headquarters are on compulsory leave this week as a cost cutting measure.

Holden white-collar workers told to take days off to curb costs

Holden logo17 Apr 2009

By RON HAMMERTON

GM HOLDEN’S head office at Port Melbourne is running on a skeleton staff this week as the white-collar workforce joins Holden factory workers on down time in response to the global financial crisis.

Only workers with critical on-going roles or urgent projects are exempt from the company decision to extend the Easter break by three days.

Hundreds of workers at the HQ191 building – centre of Holden’s administration, sales, marketing, purchasing, corporate affairs, design and engineering operations – are taking annual leave or bringing forward rostered days off to cover the days.

As Tuesday was already a day off for Holden workers, the extra days covered Wednesday to Friday.

GM Holden national media manager Scott Whiffen said the decision to extend the Easter break was a cost-cutting measure, similar to the extended Christmas shutdown at Holden.

“We are in an environment where we are trying to save every dollar,” he said.

“The vehicle operations and the engine operations are both down at the moment, so the view was that this would be a good opportunity to pull that lever to stretch the Easter break.”

Mr Whiffen said he was unsure how many workers had taken the days off, but sufficient staff remained at their desks to ensure business did not suffer.

“The intention was that people would be off unless there was a pretty good task to be performed,” he said. “But it is not like the business has ground to a halt.”

 center imageHolden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss.

The forthcoming launch of the new Holden Cruze small car is one project that remains a priority.

In an effort to weather the storm, Holden executives, including chairman and managing director Mark Reuss, have taken pay cuts, while salaries for others have been frozen.

Holden’s Vehicle Operations plant at Elizabeth, South Australia, and Engine Operations factory at Port Melbourne, Victoria, are both shut this week – the latest in a string of temporary closures to bring inventories into line with diminished demand.

Meanwhile, GM Holden, unions and its factory workers are still working through the details of Holden’s proposal to switch to a single-shift, two-crew operation at its Elizabeth plant on May 4.

Mr Reuss announced the switch on April 3, saying the change would enable the company to cut production to 310 units a day while preserving jobs ahead of the introduction of Holden’s new fuel-efficient four-cylinder small car in 2010.

The plan was to offer workers one week on/one week off or fortnight on/fortnight off, with workers on downtime getting 50 per cent pay.

Mr Whiffen said the switch was still on target but discussions were continuing on how to implement it.

“The mechanics of that are still being worked through,” he said.

Read more:

Holden cuts factory shift

Holden destiny in our hands, says Reuss


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