US company General Motors (GM), announced it would no longer make cars suitable for Australian roads.
Roughly 600 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the decision, with GM international operations senior vice president Julian Blissett telling reporters about 70 per cent of Holden’s 800 staff will be axed.
Mr Blissett said he couldn’t give an exact number of staff that will be let go.
“We will obviously go person by person and have a plan, as I said earlier in my remarks the design centre and the engineering centre will cease operations by the end of June. Those people will go obviously, by the end of June,” he said.
“We need to work with our dealers, partners to do an orderly transition down, and we will need people to do that. I’m not in a position to give you exact numbers but we will work together with the dealers are an appropriate plan.”
This announcement comes after the company ceased local manufacturing in 2017.
GM Holden interim chairman and managing director Kristian Aquilina said by the end of the year there will be roughly 200 staff left across Australia and New Zealand.
“This is obviously dreadfully heartbreaking for the team back at Holden who we have just had a chance to talk to, there is a big emotional response and we are very keen to get back to them and be with them,” Mr Aquilina said.
“The people that are involved in the departures over the next few months, they range from marketing staff, sales staff, the team that looked after the establishment of the quality that we have achieved in the product over the years … the finance teams, the HR teams, it’s quite a broad range and cross section of people.”
There are currently 185 Holden dealers in Australia and 31 in New Zealand.
GM has pledged to provide “fair” redundancy packages for its staff and offer compensation to its dealers across the two countries.
Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said the outcome of the company’s decision was “very disappointing”, revealing the company only informed the Government of its move minutes before making the announcement.
“This is a very disappointing outcome. It is disappointing because they will be several hundred workers about to lose their jobs because of this decision made by Holden. It is
disappointing that they only advised the government of this decision just before their announcement,” she said.
“Our concern is for the workers who have been displaced and undoubtedly are very shocked by this decision of Holden.”
Ms Andrews said the Australian Government would do “all it can to assist the displaced workers” and help them find other opportunities.
She added the government was concerned about the “little notice” given to Holden employees about the massive change.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable for Holden to have made this decision without any consultation with government,” Ms Andrews said.
“It would have shown a considerable amount of goodwill, as well as decency, in picking up the phone and talking to government beforehand.”
Holden had made it clear the decision had nothing to do with government policy but was the result of the Australian business case “that they believed was no longer sustainable”, Ms Andrews said.
As a result of the shock announcement, the Minister said she will be making a call to car manufacturer Ford about its plans in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also expressed anger at the auto giant’s decision.
“I am disappointed but not surprised. But I am angry, like I think many Australians would be,” he said.
“We will look after the workers who have been left behind. We will work with them to make sure they will be able to move into new industries.”