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No threat from Korean strikes, says Holden

Big load: Holden suffered a large drop in Colorado sales after strike action in Thailand interrupted supplies.

Korean walkout over jobs should not hurt Holden in the showroom, car-maker says

Holden logo2 Jul 2013

By BARRY PARK

HOLDEN expects no slow-down of its sales momentum in Australia as the Korean workers who build many of the cars sold here prepare for strike action.

Workers at the General Motors assembly line in Gunsan, South Korea are preparing for a partial walkout on Thursday in protest over plans to move some of the car-maker’s Cruze production to Poland over the next few years.

It comes at a rough time for GM’s Korean workforce, with production of the plant already slowing in response to falling demand in Europe. So far, GM has elected to idle workers rather than cut jobs.

According to Craig Cheetham, Holden’s director of product launch communications, the Korean strike action should not have any effect on the car-maker’s sales in Australia..

“GM has multiple plants and continuity plans across its business and there is currently no disruption to supply, Mr Cheetham said.

“Any theoretical impact is just that, theoretical.” Holden is building the Cruze sedan and hatchback here after brokering a deal with its US parent company and the Australian government to take production volume from GM’s Korean factories.

However, the low-volume Cruze wagon is still built in Korea and imported here rather than built alongside the other locally made products.

Industrial strife overseas has created problems for Holden before.

Earlier this year, workers at GM’s Thailand-based plants sparked a series of rolling strikes in February over pay and conditions, severely interrupting productivity as the factory dropped from three shifts to just one.

The strikes followed on from devastating floods the previous year that also interrupted production for a number of car-makers, including Honda and Toyota.

Strike action bit deeply into production of Holden’s Colorado trade ute, stripping hundreds of sales from the company’s books during a busy part of the year, according to the Australian car-maker’s marketing director, Phil Brook.

“We were down 500 to 800 units a month,” Mr Brook told GoAuto at the launch of the radically redesigned VF Commodore.

“The last quarter of last year we were doing in the 1700s or 1800s (monthly sales of Colorado), then we got it up to 2000, and we’ve (since) been doing about the 1100s,” he said.

“These things happen,” Mr Brook said. “It’s (Colorado production) back online now, so we have cars coming through.” Holden sold almost 1400 Colorado trade utes in May. It is currently the third best-selling Holden-badged model so far this year, outsold only by the locally built Commodore and Cruze.

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