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Redundancies underway at Holden

End of the line: Holden has confirmed it has put the call out for 270 voluntary redundancy packages at its Elizabeth, South Australia plant.

Holden will re-rate its Elizabeth plant and ask for 270 volunteers for redundancy

21 Apr 2015

GM HOLDEN is seeking volunteers for 270 redundancy packages at its Elizabeth, South Australia plant as the company responds to falling demand.

The American-owned car-maker will slow its production rate from 290 to 240 cars per day at the end of May, a line rate less than half what the Adelaide factory was building at its 600-car per day peak, in response to reduced demand for the locally-built Commodore sedan and Sportwagon and Cruze hatch and sedan models.

GM Holden SA corporate affairs manager Sophie Milic said the rate change matches demand and supply and it follows the company's previous announcement confirming rolling redundancies leading up to the production facility's closure in 2017.

“This move better aligns production with demand and supports our plan of continuing to build world-class cars in Adelaide until the end of 2017,” she said.

“As previously announced, Holden’s manufacturing operations will wind down on a sliding scale to ensure an orderly transition.

Ms Milic said the company was aware of the impact of these decisions on its 1530 employees – less than half the workforce employed by the company in 2014 - and their families.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) SA state secretary John Camillo was quietly confident of the 270 places being filled by volunteers, which should eliminate the need for Holden to introduce forced redundancies, for now.

“It’s 220 production workers, 30 tradespeople and 20 salaried people,” he said.

“We feel confident of getting 270 volunteers – they have until the end of this week to make a decision and we’ll know early next week if they have enough.”

AMWU national vehicles secretary Dave Smith was hopeful the job cuts would be handled in a voluntary redundancy fashion.

“The early consultation by Holden means that employees will have time to think about their futures,” he said.

“The one positive for the announcement is the commitment from Holden that they intend to stay until the end of 2017.”

Ms Milic said the employees’ new agreement (which came into effect in November) also included an early release program to allow as many workers as possible to find new jobs.

“That agreement allows for an early release program which has been running since December, where if people get a job – whether the VSP (voluntary separation package) process is open or not – they can apply for a voluntary package to facilitate them getting into new employment wherever possible,” Ms Milic said.

However Mr Camillo said the tough times of forced redundancies were sadly not far away.

“Up to this point it has been voluntary, there were enough people putting their hands up – some were not allowed to go because of their skills. So far no one has been forced out but a time will come when they will be tapping people on the shoulder … that time will come soon,” he said.

Official sales figures released this month to the end of March showed the Commodore large car was down by almost 17 per cent on its 2014 first quarter performance, although the range finished last year almost nine per cent ahead of 2013 overall.

The Cruze small car was down by 5.4 per cent to the end of March compared with the same period last year, which is concerning for Holden given its tally for 2014 was almost 25 per cent behind the previous year.

Holden’s overall first quarter performance – 24,781 sales – is down by almost 10 per cent over quarter one last year, with only the Barina Spark, Colorado 4WD utility and Colorado 7 SUV growing over 2014 numbers.

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