Holden will reintroduce a second shift to its Vehicle Operations plant in Elizabeth on November 15 to support production of the VE Series II Commodore and the Cruze.
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Following more than 12 months on a single shift necessitated by reduced export demand and the effects of the global financial crisis, Holden manufacturing operations executive director, Martyn Cray, said employees were heartened by this morning’s announcement.

“Our team was relieved to hear the news today. The last 18 months have been very tough for our industry, but bringing back a second shift and returning employees to full time work is an important step in rebuilding our manufacturing business,” Mr Cray said.“There is already a huge amount of work going on at the plant including equipment installation and the building of pilot vehicles for our new locally built Cruze. We are also gearing up for the new Series II Commodore which will be launched in the coming months.”

Full scale Cruze production is expected to begin as early as the first quarter of 2011. Combined local sales of the Cruze and the VE Commodore (including the Ute, Statesman and Caprice) for the first five months of 2010 have so far totalled 35,388.

By November, Holden will have operated on a single shift for around 20 months since it was introduced in April 2009. With export demand down by 50,000 units, employees have been working shift patterns ranging from one week on one week off, to one week off every 12 weeks.

Redundancy packages were offered to employees who found the shift restructure a financial strain, and the workforce is now 900 lighter than its 3200 of one year ago.

The return of the second shift will mean all employees currently on alternating working patterns will be back to full time employment in November.

Holden is also expected to hire a small number of extra workers to support the second shift, and hopes higher demand will lead to a further increase in employment in the future.

“We also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contribution, flexibility and commitment to Holden during this challenging time,” Mr Cray said.“Support from everyone, including the unions, our suppliers and the Federal and South Australian Governments has allowed us to rebuild the business and be sustainable for the long term.”

Holden reportedly received around $180 million from state and federal governments to keep its head above water during one of the most difficult periods in Australia’s automotive manufacturing history.