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Holden quits: Union boss blasts Abbott

Jobs going: Unions predict that up to 50,000 jobs will go as a result of the Holden decision to close.

Federal government has 50,000 redundancies on its hands, says union

11 Dec 2013

AUSTRALIA’S major motor manufacturing industry union has described General Motors’ decision to close Holden’s factories by 2017 as a devastating blow for Australian industry that will put up to 50,000 people out of work and punch a $21 billion hole in the economy.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Paul Bastian said today’s announcement of the closure of Holden plants in Victoria and South Australia by 2017 marked a black day for manufacturing.

“This unions’ first thought is with the workers,” he said. “This is a terrible day. We are absolutely devastated by the announcement today – this is a catastrophe for tens of thousands of families.”

Mr Bastian sheeted the blame home to the federal government’s decision to cut co-investment aid to the car industry.

“This did not have to happen,” he said. “We knew heading into the election that the coalition had plans to remove co-investment, but the entire industry hoped they would see sense and the impact of their decision.

“The government has failed to come to its senses. This is a devastating day for jobs in Australia.

“We’re looking at as many as 50,000 people who are directly employed in the car industry in Australia. This will punch a $21 billion dollar hole in the economy.”“There is no doubt that the Abbott government's lack of commitment to provide support for the car industry has lead to Holden's decision to cease manufacturing in Australia.”

Mr Bastian said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had the redundancies of 50,000 workers and their families on his hands.

“It is absolutely disgusting that this government in just a few months has caused so much damage to so many people,” he said.

“This is economic and social vandalism from the Abbott government that has led to this decision by Holden.

“Right now though, all of our thoughts and actions are with the workers who are going to be directly impacted by the political actions of the coalition.”

South Australia’s Labor premier Jay Weatherill also criticised prime minister Abbott, saying he had failed to support South Australia.

"Holden's decision to close its Elizabeth plant is devastating news for the workers and families who rely on the automotive industry," he said.

"Tony Abbott and his coalition government have turned their backs on this industry and the people in it.

"Holden had made it abundantly clear that if the support committed by the previous federal Labor Government remained on the table it would stay in Australia.

"By cutting funding and, in the past week, by attacking Holden, Tony Abbott and the Coalition have forced Holden out of Australia."A peak body for engineers says some of the best jobs in the country will be cut thanks to the refusal of the Abbott government to help Holden retain its engineering capacity.

Professional Engineers Australia CEO Chris Walton said the Abbott government had provoked Holden all this week who today announced they would "significantly reduce its engineering operations in Australia by the end of 2017".

"This isn't just a crisis in manufacturing, it's a crisis in engineering," Mr Walton said.

"Without a manufacturing base hundreds and hundreds of engineering jobs are likely to be cut both in Victoria and South Australia.

"Instead of bludgeoning Holden in parliament, Abbott and Hockey should have acted like adults and saved these jobs. The future of any kind of significant automotive engineering capacity is now in grave doubt."

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