Car workers take their concerns to the government
Car industry workers will meet federal politicians in Canberra next week to explain their concerns over the future of the industry, as talks between Holden and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union fall silent.
About 25 workers from car and component manufacturing will hold discussions with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and potentially other MPs on Monday and Tuesday, including Treasurer Joe Hockey and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. The talks will allow workers to explain how winding back the car industry would affect their livelihoods and families.
"We're doing everything in our power to put pressure on decision makers," said John Camillo from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. "I want workers to explain to pollies what the closure would mean on the economy, to their community and to their families."
There is increasing uncertainty over the future of the industry in Australia beyond 2016. Ford will cease local production by October 2016. Holden and Toyota Australia are seeking guarantees on government assistance and policy settings before making further investments.
The government has asked the Productivity Commission to examine automotive subsidies and hopes to have an interim report by Christmas and a final report by late March.
Mr Camillo said Holden's talks with the AMWU have gone quiet after managing director Mike Devereux received a promotion within the General Motors hierarchy this month. "Since Devereux's announcement, it's all gone dead quiet," Mr Camillo said. "I asked for a meeting with Mike and I'm still waiting to hear back. The key issue is to find out who the new Australian boss is going to be: what his background is, where he's come from. We'll be watching that very closely."
A Holden spokesman said Mr Devereux would continue to be involved in Holden's funding negotiations until the end of the year.
About 1700 manufacturing workers from Holden's Adelaide plant heard on Friday they would receive a 3 per cent pay rise.
In August, the workers agreed to a wage freeze and other conditions, such as reduced penalty rates on Sundays, to help Holden achieve $15 million in annual savings. Variations to the enterprise bargaining agreement were dependent on Holden agreeing to continue operations in Australia beyond 2015.
The situation was contingent on Holden receiving a suitable subsidy from the government by November 15, but that deadline has passed.
"Holden has put a newsletter out to say that workers will receive a 3 per cent pay rise after the first full pay period after November 15," Mr Camillo said. "If and when Holden makes a decision on going ahead with the Cruze and Commodore replacements, that pay rise will cease and workers will return to the variations they agreed to in August."
Hundreds of Holden engine plant workers in Melbourne remained on strike on Friday over a fight with management on redundancy conditions for 30 workers.