What the shift changes mean is that production at the plant will drop to 310 cars a day, a dramatic change from the 650 cars a day being produced when the VE Commodore was launched.
In a strong admission of the seriousness of the market downturn in its primary area of business GM Holden says it is aligning production with current forecast demand in both domestic and hard-hit export markets.
GM Holden says the new shift pattern at Elizabeth will come into effect from May 4 and is in response to global economic conditions and falling volumes across the Large Car Segment.
Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Reuss, said the change would enable the company to preserve jobs ahead of the introduction of Holden’s new small, fuel efficient, four-cylinder car in 2010.
GM Holden says it will work with union representatives to negotiate employee rosters around the single shift with options to include one week on, one week off or two weeks on, two weeks off.
The company said that employees would receive 50 per cent pay for the days when they are not working.
”This is the best way to protect jobs in the current climate and keep Holden in its best possible shape leading into the opening of our second car line and an improvement in global market conditions,“ Mr Reuss said.
Elizabeth, near Adelaide, is GM Holden’s only vehicle assembly plant, building 45 variants of the Commodore large car for domestic and export markets.
From next year it will also produce a small, four-cylinder Holden, expected to be based on the Delta platform that’s used for the soon to be released Holden Cruze, for both the domestic and export markets.
Mr Reuss said today’s decision had been the only responsible course for Holden given the exceptionally challenging market conditions in Australia and overseas.
He said defining the output for the Commodore would have an ultimately beneficial effect for suppliers and employees as until now the company had been modifying its production on an ongoing basis in an effort to meet demand.
He said the changes would provide certainty and clarity for everyone involved.