Daily strikes by Huon Corperation workers at Empire Rubber in Bendigo, FRN in Frankston and Mills Elastomers in Dandenong have caused a massive car-part shortage creating a crisis for the Australian Car Industry. Australia’s top 3 car manufacturers, Holden, Ford and Toyota are all users of Huon’s products and are facing temporary factory closures while the supply of goods is re-established.
Almost 600 of Huon’s staff walked off the job a week ago in support of 122 other staff members who had already been fired (made redundant) and have not received their entitlements. Worst effected is Ford Australia who closed down its major and main factory in Broadmeadows in Melbourne since the factory came to a halt once parts had ran out earlier today.
Ford has said that it’s staff will not return to work untill Huon staff return to work and has not ruled out killing operations at its Geelong plant sometime next week. Ford is paying 60% of its workers pay while the factory remains closed. The situation is slightly better for the other two manufacturers, Holden and Toyota who also source many of their parts from Huon.
Holden has stated that production will continue this coming monday, but Tuesday is currently still uncertain as parts might be running low by then. Toyota is also in the same boat, assuring workers that it will assess the situation on a day by day basis
“We know definitely Monday, after that we just have to assess the situation on an hour by hour basis,” Holden spokesman Jason Laird said.
“We still have product that has been made by Empire Rubber and we are dipping into that stock, we’ll just take it on a day-by-day basis.” Toyota spokesman Peter Griffin.
Huon also supplies Mitsubishi indirectly, but Mitsubishi has stated that they will be able to cope for a few weeks (who needs parts when the 380 isn’t selling!) The Huon redundancies followed the company being placed in the hands of administrators SimsPartners.
Unions said that huon staff are owed more than $30 million in entitlements, while the administrators today began Supreme Court action against Huon’s former directors to recover money allegedly stripped from the company. National Union of Workers (NUW) state secretary Antony Thow says it is time for the Australian auto industry to support Huon workers.
“We’ve worked very cooperatively with the administrator, who is doing an outstanding job, and we believe that if all players in the industry – the unions, the administrator, the car companies, put their heads together we can protect and save these jobs,” he said.
Huon recently purchased Empire Rubber, Mills Elastomers and Nylex Frankston from Nylex in Dec 2005 for $30 million AUD. Now it seems that Huon will need some help from the Auto industry and perhaps the government to stay in operation. Huon workers have asked car companies to help the workers who were laid off.
This is yet another story of strikes in the Auto industry following those of by Peugeot workers in Europe, and Hyundai workers in South Korea forcing Hyundai to halt all overseas exports as of today due to strikes.