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Holden shaping employee support program

Shakey ground: South Australia’s manufacturing minister Tom Kenyon believes Holden’s threats carry some force behind them.

Talks continue, but Holden says it is close to revealing worker support programs

15 Aug 2014

HOLDEN will follow Toyota’s lead and offer a support scheme for its 2900 workers as they transition to other industries and roles ahead of the closure of its manufacturing operations in 2017.

Earlier this month Toyota announced its “DRIVE” program that includes employee assistance centres at its Altona manufacturing plant in Melbourne’s west and the corporate head office in Port Melbourne where staff can discuss their future with dedicated case workers.

Holden executive director of corporate affairs George Svigos told reporters in Melbourne this week that while the company was still working on the details of an official program, it would do all it could to support its workforce.

“The EBA negotiations are continuing at the moment, they have been going for a while and we hope to conclude those in the coming weeks, he said.

“In relation to transition support, we are close to having an agreement with the federal government on being able to begin providing transitional support, careers guidance, training etcetera to impacted employees.”

While the program is yet to be signed off, Mr Svigos said the transition centres, similar to those Toyota had announced, would give workers access to information and career guidance to get them ready for the workforce beyond Holden.

“We will have transition centres set up within the next month at almost all of our sites,” he said. “They will be places where people can go and research what is available in relation to support, where jobs might be in the future and those sorts of things.

“We have also rolled out an employee survey which is a skills and training needs analysis across our whole workforce.” Mr Svigos said the support would target the needs of workers, and encourage them to pursue a career path that best suited their needs.

“We have asked key questions around ‘what do you want to do next in your life, what sort of training gaps do you think you might have, what industries are appealing to you’, so we can get a real picture of what are the services we would need to purchase in order to support our employees out of that growth fund money,” he said.

“We are very well advanced and particularly in relation to our time-lines and the commitment we made about helping our people transition from Holden to the next meaningful employment of their life, we feel very comfortable we can deliver that.”

Mr Svigos said Holden employees had expressed interest in a diverse range of industries and that where they end up will depend on individual choice as well as opportunities, which vary between the states affected – South Australia and Victoria.

“A lot of that is you have to look at the macro economic trends and where the jobs will be in the future. A lot of it gets down to individual choice as well.

Where do people want to work in the future? There will be some that may want a complete career change, there will be others that may be looking for more engineering work and more manufacturing work.

“The South Australian economy and Victorian economy are really different. Some of it swings on some key policy decisions that will be taken in SA around the future of ship building, public works as well and the capital budgets that state and federal governments have.

“The Victorian economy is very different. It’s more of a diversified economy.

We will also have a different workforce that’s coming out from Holden into the Victorian marketplace as well.”

GM Holden chairman and managing director Gerry Dorizos said that while talks for the program continued, he was confident the company would look after its employees.

“Holden has always respected its employees that's in our DNA and that's not going to change,” he said.

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