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Holden workers will vote on a new pay deal next week that will decide the future of the company’s local manufacturing operations.

The vote was originally planned to take place this Friday (August 9), but was rescheduled to August 13 by Holden to give its 1700-strong workforce in Elizabeth, South Australia extra time to absorb the proposed variations to the agreement.

“It is crucial our people are able to make a fully informed decision and we want to give them every opportunity to do so,” Holden said in a statement.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union South Australia state secretary John Camillo told CarAdvice the new agreement proposed by Holden no longer included the wage cuts and voluntary separation package (VSP) caps of the original offer that was designed to save the company $15 million a year, but introduced changes relating to production and shift flexibility.

He said the length and amount of legal jargon used in the revised document, however, made it difficult for workers to digest, prompting the AMWU to prepare a four-page newsletter spelling out more simply the changes to the agreement, which was distributed to all workers last night and this morning.

“Over the next few days I’ll be spending time with the workers to answer any of their questions in regards to the overtime, the flexibility, what it means in regards to their wages, when the next round of collective agreements is – all those sorts of questions I’ll be taking on board,” Camillo said.

“Most of those I’ll be able to answer, some of those I might have to take away to look at a bit more deeply.”


Camillo said the AMWU would listen to workers and gauge their reaction to the new proposed agreement.

“Two weeks ago, 90 per cent of the workforce would have said ‘no’ because there were wage cuts, the voluntary separation cap and there was no guarantee in regards to the [local manufacturing future of] Cruze and Commodore.

“What we’ve managed to do is get rid of the VSP cap, so now the people that work at Holden still get a generous voluntary separation package. There’s no wage cut, so that’s been removed, and also what we’ve managed to put in the variation is a clause that says none of these variations become in operation until Holden has made an announcement to replace the Cruze and Commodore.

“So while you might have the overtime there and the flexibility, even though the workers will vote on that next Tuesday, it’s still based on Holden coming back and saying ‘yes, you’ve got approval for Cruze and Commodore’.

“So if it takes three months, six months, nine months, none of this happens until Detroit, Mike Devereux, or whoever gives the okay for the replacement of Cruze and Commodore.”


Camillo said Holden’s position on its manufacturing future was unchanged if the workers voted against its new proposal.

“[Holden manufacturing executive director] Richard Phillips said to workers on day shift and afternoon shift a ‘no’ vote means there will not be a replacement of Cruze and Commodore.

“It’s not the union saying this, it’s the company saying this in their newsletters to the workers. They’ve been saying it from day one.

“This is not just GM in Australia putting the pressure on workers. GM in Detroit is saying to all GM plants you either become more flexible despite the market or you don’t get the tick of approval.

“Because of the bankruptcy a couple of years ago in America, GM now has more bean counters in a lot of those [management] positions and so they are more focused on making profits rather than keep plants going.”


Camillo said closing the Elizabeth plant would affect many more Australians than just the 1700 that worked within its walls.

“The workers here at Elizabeth will vote, but the first- and second-tier suppliers don’t get any chance to vote,” he said.

“If Holden closes down, you’re looking at 16,000 jobs [that will be lost] here in South Australia with suppliers, logistics and so on.”

Holden says it will wait for the result of the federal election before deciding on its future investment in Australia.

  • Whats going on

    You’re good Holden. Lets hold everyone to ransom and say we’ll wait for the election outcome to make a decision. Then just before the election make an announcement that you’ll invest heavily in a local new car (possibly electric) so we will need 200 – 500 million but only Labour will give you that kind of money. Then once you’ve got the money there will be an announcement that manufacture in Australia is not financially viable.
    We all know what you’re up to Holden were not blind or stupid.
    Come 2016 you will be gone no matter how much money the government will give you.
    You are just a greedy unscrupulous American company ripping off the Australian public.
    Have the decency like Ford did and just announce you’re ‘real’ intentions and be done with it.

    • Hung Low

      Well said. They are all about minimising losses before the exit from this country, looking for scapegoats like the union, its employees and the government to point the blame at. Their operation here has been nothing short of total mismanagement. The decision to build the Cruze here in one of the most competitive market sectors is moronic considering they must have always known that it was more viable to keep production in Korea for the forecasted sales.

      • Karl Sass

        Of course it was cheaper to get the Cruze from Korea, but the imports have always been an auxiliary to the locally made cars for Holden. The whole point of Holden is to make Australian made cars, that’s what they’re desperately trying to do. Holden being just an importer would be like Apple actually buying farms and selling apples, not the point of the company. End of the day making cars in any developed country isn’t a good business decision when you can make cars in countries with cheap labour. Unfortunately for Holden, building cars in Australia is their whole business model and the purpose for their existence. Once they lose that they are of zero relevance.

    • Zaccy16

      well said! they are dodging the bullet and making it sound positive but i doubt they will past very long after ford go

  • cv

    I think the clue to holden’s problem can be seen in the photos. Look at the supervisor to worker ratio, i.e. the supervisor’s in fluro vests (standing around with arms folded and hands in pockets) and the workers in tshirts.

    This says it all really. I’m betting all the guys in fluro vests are hanging out for the now uncapped redundancy pay outs.

  • Rocket

    It was sad to see Ford announce ceasing manufacturing in 2016 and likewise it will be a sad day if GM shut down Holden for the same reasons. However every business needs to be able to stand on its own merits at the end of the day and not rely on taxpayers to keep funding the losses.

    Maybe Clive Palmer could start a car company instead of building a new Titanic?

    • Zaccy16

      yeah! palmer definitely likes cars as he has a collection that was shown in the wheels mag

    • Karl Sass

      If he did he would do it in China because they will work for less, just like he is building the Titanic there.

  • James

    Lol I see what’s happened here with the date changes… Holden is playing “pay back” to ford.. Because the day the VF was launched ford Australia announced its plans about shutting down manufacturing in Australia. Here comes the pay back price… Months ago it was announced that on august 13.. ford aus would reveal more details about the next falcon also the extra 30% of line up they will introduce in the future.. Could this be payback to ford for taking away some of the VF’s spotlight? I think so.

  • Tony Abbotts No1 Fan

    tick tock..tick tock..tick tock…tick

  • Robert

    My solution would be to tell general motors if they’re not going to manufacture cars here anymore they need to sell Holden to the government, The government could use the money that they give the automotive industry to buy Holden and sell 49% off. Holden would need to develop a multi configuration production line to make more different cars like a 4wd alongside others. Car’s that Australia’s buy, cars that government agencies need and should be made to buy to support Australia. There are so many possibilities, the government could buy 51% of Holden on the condition that we would source parts from them even cars rebadge to make a profit. We would still be better off knowing that for the first time a car manufacture would be mostly Australia owned and could be Australia managed. The government could direct development on more efficient/electric cars etc. Company’s buying fleets of vehicles and the mining industries could be given incentives to buy Australia, other manufactures might think this is not fair but that is business. Fair trade is one thing but all countries and people do this to benefit themselves. The customer still has the right to choose