As it did for Ford, today marks a step toward ending Holden's entire Australian manufacturing program. But, while Ford continued to build engines until just weeks before Falcon and Territory production ended, Holden intends to continue building the Commodore through to the end of 2017.
The scheduled and long-anticipated end of production sees 175 people made redundant, but Holden says that 57 others had already left before today, with the majority finding employment elsewhere and others retiring.
It is likely that the future remains unclear for some, although Holden says it has been providing transition help and services since last year, including information sessions, workshops, career counselling, employment expos, résumé writing, interview skills preparation and up to $3000 in approved training.
In a statement today, the company said: "Holden acknowledges the impact the end of local manufacturing has on our people and their families, across the country and throughout the industry. We are doing everything in our power to allow our people to make considered choices and help them move onto their next opportunity."
"Holden has proactively engaged with HR and business leaders in Victoria and interstate who have toured the Port Melbourne site and viewed the variety of skills and capabilities of our workforce. Employees who have secured another job have been able to access an early voluntary separation package, helping them to take up opportunities."
Holden manufacturing chief Richard Phillips said that the dedication, productivity and attention to quality of the Holden Engine Operations staff is "testament to their passion and professionalism".
“The employees at Holden Engine Operations have made an enormous contribution to our company and the entire Australian motoring industry,” Phillips said.
“The team was recognised just this year with the top prize as the Most Valuable Plant for Productivity across General Motors International, which reflects the pride and dedication of this team."
Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Bernhard, said the company is committed to "ensuring it remains an icon" on the Australian automotive landscape.
“We are making significant investments to ensure Holden’s long-term future success. The best way we can honour our people and their legacy is by building a bright future and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.
Holden says it has built more than 10 million engines in Australia since full-scale engine production began in 1948, while a grand total of 1,137,282 engines came out of the Fishermans Bend HFV6 site in Port Melbourne since it began operations in 2003. The one-million milestone was reached in early 2014, around six months after the company announced it would end local manufacturing.
Just under half of the Australian-built HFV6 ('High Feature V6') engines were exported internationally, with 699,806 units going into domestic-market cars.
Holden also built V8 engines in Port Melbourne for the Kingswood and Monaro, but the local V8 was swapped for an imported unit at the end of the 20th century.
Four-cylinder engines once figured in the local production schedule, too. But, like the V8, it was phased out in favour of an imported option.
The last HFV6 engine, built today, will be kept as part of Holden's heritage collection.
With a view to seeing out Commodore production and any remaining export commitments, Holden says a number of components and engines have been produced ahead of final vehicle assembly, "as is normal practice in the car industry".
Bernhard said that today "was an emotional time", but that the company is "proud to retain a significant presence in Australia for the long term".
"This includes more than 300 people in our local design and engineering workforces across our world-class design studios in Port Melbourne and the outstanding Holden Proving Ground in Lang Lang."
“This is in addition to the approximately 700 corporate staff and 10,000 people employed across our dealer network,” he added.
Richard Phillips said today that Holden's transition out of local manufacturing and into a full-import operation, "continues to happen in a planned, phased and orderly process".
Support and services for Holden employees includes:
- Up to $3000 training funds
- Career counselling
- Financial advice and superannuation support
- Coaching sessions to develop individual tailored plans
- Information on career pathways, training providers and courses
- Industry information sessions
- Careers and training expos
- Computer training
- Jobs vacancy board
- Dedicated staff to help answer questions
- Resume and job application writing workshops
- Interview training
- Networking training
- Job search training
- Department of Human Services (representatives and self-service kiosks)
- Résumé writing workshops
- NewAccess program (BeyondBlue/BeyondAuto)