COMMENT by Dave Smith, AMWU National Vehicle Division Secretary
This year shapes up as probably the most challenging in our industry’s history with Ford ending production, Holden scaling down and its engine plant due to close. But those members affected can trust that your union will be with you for the ride.
The closures are not the fault of auto workers and it’s sadly ironic that our lower dollar makes good economic sense for manufacturing cars in Australia, all within the same term of a Coalition Government which abandoned the industry.
It was unfortunate but unsurprising that last week on the same day GM confirmed the scheduled wind-down of Cruze production that it also ruled out the proposal by Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey to take over the Holden Elizabeth facility.
The Union met Mr Dumarey and believed his intentions to keep making cars at the plant were totally legitimate.
But there were real roadblocks concerning GM clearing continued use of its VF Commodore Zeta platform, the supply chain and particularly the reluctance of the Turnbull Government to give it the necessary financial backing.
We were deeply sceptical that this Turnbull Government was ever prepared to reverse its decision to withold ongoing assistance to the industry, as it seeks to hoard $800 million in unspent ATS funding.
The AMWU was careful not to unrealistically raise hopes, so our advice to members is to continue to plan for your transition from the automotive industry, taking advantage of all the assistance provided.
It’s important you have a plan, so we can help you begin to work towards that personal goal. The AMWU remains pro-active in encouraging training, as you can see in our story on Ford.
We’re also pro-active in helping workers in the non-manufacturing area of auto, as we expect repair, service and retail has a solid future and will continue to grow.
People will still need and love their cars and trucks.
That’s why we’re speaking with auto technicians in dealerships and shops about what representation they need to improve their incomes, conditions and to have their profession properly recognised.
It’s why we’re reaching out to other auto workers, including tyre fitters (we’ve secured improvements at Bridgestone in SA).
2016 will be a difficult year for auto workers but come election day, you’ll have the opportunity at the ballot box to let your feelings known about the fate of car manufacturing in Australia.