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Holden reinstates second shift in Adelaide

Back to work: Holden's Cruze sedan will go into production at Elizabeth alongside a locally-designed hatch version.

Production at Holden’s Adelaide plant to return to two shifts in November

Holden logo28 Jun 2010

GM HOLDEN will increase production at its manufacturing plant at Elizabeth, Adelaide, in November, returning to a second shift in preparation for the VE Series II Commodore and the Cruze small car.

Announced this morning as Ford was holding a media event its Broadmeadows assembly plant in Melbourne to celebrate 50 years of Falcon, the Holden move returns all workers at Elizabeth – around 2300 employees – to full employment after the company moved to a single shift in April last year.

Since then, production workers have been alternating work – ranging from one week on/one week off to one week off in 12 – on reduced pay in an effort to avoid retrenchments as Holden scaled down production to 340 vehicles a day – about half the normal two-shift capacity of 620.

The increased line rate – which is still far from capacity, at 430 a day – will take effect on November 15 and, according to Holden, will enable the company to hire an additional 30 people “to support the second shift in the short term”, with the potential to increase employment should demand rise “in the longer term”.

These new employees will start training to build the small Cruze sedan and a locally designed and developed hatchback version, with production commencing early next year.

 center imageFrom top: Holden Small Car sketch, production at Holden's Elizabeth plant.

After cutting around 2000 jobs over the past five years, most of them from its blue-collar workforce when the third shift was stopped at Elizabeth in 2005, Holden is anticipating a significant rise in production with Cruze and a renewed export program to the US with a Caprice-based police car developed for Chevrolet.

A civilian version of the Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) is also anticipated, with former Holden chairman and GM president Mark Reuss now championing the cause for a return of Commodore exports to the US, after the VE-based G8 program was abandoned last year with the Pontiac brand’s demise.

It was this export blow, compounded by dwindling sales in the Middle East, which forced Holden to cut the second shift at Elizabeth and adjust to a shortfall of about 50,000 units per annum.

However, the second shift’s reinstatement has been widely anticipated in recent months as details of the new export opportunities and the updated Commodore have come to light, and as Holden has returned to profitability this year after posting a $21.6 million loss for 2009.

Mr Reuss’ replacement, Mike Devereux, said in his first media address in April that Holden intended to bring the second shift back to Elizabeth, although since then the company has revealed it will cut around two weeks of Commodore production – in July and August – to help clear stocks in readiness for the 2011 VE Series II, which hits the streets later this year.

A Holden spokesperson has told GoAuto that the increase in build rate to 430 cars a day does not take into account the US police and civilian vehicle programs, with the PPV tender process continuing and order numbers expected to be firmed up by November.

She also highlighted the fact that with Commodore and Cruze being assembled on the same line, the model mix can be changed quickly according to market demand.

In a statement released today, Holden manufacturing operations executive director Martyn Cray said: “The last 18 months have been very tough for our industry, but bringing back a second shift and returning employees to full-time work is an important step in rebuilding our manufacturing business.

“There is already a huge amount of work going on at the plant including equipment installation and the building of pilot vehicles for our new locally built Cruze. We are also gearing up for the new Series II Commodore which will be launched in the coming months.

“We also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contribution, flexibility and commitment to Holden during this challenging time.

“Support from everyone, including the unions, our suppliers and the federal and South Australian governments, has allowed us to rebuild the business and be sustainable for the long term.”

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