At 6:00am (ACST) today overnight workers at Holden’s Elizabeth plant voted on the proposed changes to workplace arrangements at the factory which would determine the car maker’s future in Australia.
1,700 workers are being asked to accept a three-year pay freeze and lower conditions to help the car maker save $15 million a year. If they reject the deal, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says Holden will be forced to shut down its operations.
However a “yes” vote will not necessarily mean a secured future for Holden. The company is still seeking a cash injection from the Federal Government before the General Motors board in Detroit makes a final decision next month.
In a report from ABC News, John Camillo of the Federation of Vehicle Industry Unions says Holden Chairman Mike Devereux is still waiting on the results of the September 7 Federal Elections to see who will govern the country.
“I feel very confident in regards to Federal Labor. I don’t feel too confident in regards to Tony Abbott or Sophie Mirabella, in regards to supporting the automotive industry,” Mr. Camillo said in the ABC interview.
“If it’s the Coalition, they need to make sure they support the automotive industry and if they don’t support the automotive industry, this investment could still fall over.”
“It is crucial for the automotive industry in Australia to be supported by the Government. It’s the same with what happens right around the world. Every government supports the automotive industry in the other countries. Unfortunately in this country we have a few people who do not support the automotive industry.”
Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr has previously announced to delegates of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union that the Labor Government will stand behind industry modernization through co-investment, with $285 million already committed to Holden.
The Labor Government has also announced a $200 million package to help secure the future of Australia’s car manufacturing by including more Australian-made cars in public and private-sector fleets.
However Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey announced yesterday that the Coalition would wait until after the elections to discuss Holden’s future in Australia.
Mr. Hockey has previously said the Coalition will not add further money to the car industry and that no industry can rely forever on government handouts to survive.
A second round of voting is scheduled to happen around lunch time and the votes will be counted at 3 o’clock this afternoon.