Devereux today confirmed Holden would cease its local vehicle and engine manufacturing operations and significantly reduce its local engineering presence by the final quarter of 2017 after parent company General Motors decided on Tuesday afternoon that it was not sustainable to continue producing cars in Australia.
Devereux, who will leave Holden at the end of 2013 after almost four years in charge, paid tribute to the workers and praised their loyalty to the brand in what has been a turbulent few years.
“On a personal level I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each every person at Holden for their ongoing hard work, for their dedication, and for their love of this place,” he said.
“This is a very difficult day for a lot of great men and women who have made personal sacrifices during the GFC for our company as a team, who earlier this year voted on a landmark change to their EBA to agree to take a three-year wage freeze, to be more productive in the plant…
“I could not ask for more from the team at Holden and I really want to remember that.
“There’s nothing I can say to anybody that will take the sting from this announcement.
“Everybody at Holden should stand tall, now and in the coming years. We make cars all Australians can be truly proud of, and I know that our people will take great pride in building a world-class Cruze and Commodore until the very last car rolls off this great Elizabeth production line.”
Devereux said Holden and General Motors were committed to “doing our best to support our people” in helping them find new jobs over the next four years.
“There are 2900 people at Holden that three to four years from now will need to find something very productive for themselves to do in this country.
“We will take great pride and attention and genuine care in working with the federal, the state government and the local government to help those employees make that transition.”
The number of Australian looking for new jobs is expected to far exceed the 2900 directly employed by Holden, potentially causing a domino effect that will wipe out the entire industry, including Toyota Australia and hundreds of parts suppliers.
Toyota Australia this afternoon said Holden’s decision to stop building cars would place “unprecedented pressure on the supplier network and our ability to build cars in Australia”.
The automotive manufacturing industry is estimated to employ 50,000 Australians directly and indirectly, and Devereux says the government and the country has “some very difficult decisions to make”.
“I understand their [the government’s] point of view, I do. General Motors globally understands the point of view and the position that the Australian government is in.
“The government has to make decisions on infrastructure investments, on support for different industries across the spectrum, and it is a difficult budget environment and economic environment.
“I don’t stand here to say that I understand what those pressures and challenges are, but I appreciate the point of view of the government, and General Motors made a decision on its own yesterday because we feel like we have all of the information that we need to know that our next-gen business case for those two products is not viable going into the future.”