Holden looks for saviour in funding discussions

General Motors Holden will on Wednesday commence funding talks with the Abbott government in a bid to salvage the ailing car manufacturing industry.

General Motors Holden will on Wednesday commence funding talks with the Abbott government in a bid to salvage the ailing car manufacturing industry.

In meetings being described as ‘‘crucial’’ to Holden’s future – as well as that of rival car maker Toyota and the accompanying parts supply chain – managing director Mike Devereux will host Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on a tour of the company’s Adelaide manufacturing facilities.

It is understood South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, independent Senator Nick Xenophon and possibly former Labor industry minister Greg Combet will be among those in attendance for the tour and subsequent sit-down discussions. Workers are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the talks, with Holden poised to make a decision on its long-term future in the coming months.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union SA secretary John Camillo said workers were urgently seeking clarification on their futures.

‘‘You have 1700 Holden workers in the component sector worrying day-in, day-out on whether there’s a future for them beyond 2016,’’ Mr Camillo said. ‘‘It’s the same emotional rollercoaster they went through when Holden decided workers needed to take pay cuts. The final straw now is waiting on the government to make that decision: are they going to put that additional money in for a 10-year co-investment plan?’’

In August, Holden workers accepted a variation to their enterprise agreement to help the company achieve $15 million in annual savings. Among the measures agreed to were a three-year wage freeze and adjustments in overtime and meal break allowances.

‘‘Workers have given up a lot in regards to wage freezes and doing everything the company wants. Now we’re just waiting on the Abbott government to give the go-ahead in regards to the replacement of the Cruze and Commodore,’’ Mr Camillo said.

Government co-investment is crucial to General Motors’ $1 billion plan to continue producing cars locally until at least 2022.

Before the election, the Coalition vowed to make $500 million in cuts to car industry funding. Last month Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated plans to boost export numbers from Holden and Toyota in a bid to improve sales.

An insider close to negotiations said Holden’s future was highly dependent on flexibility from the recently-elected government.

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