Later today, Friday 7 October, the final Ford vehicle will roll off the line at Broadmeadows, Victoria. Over 580 direct Ford employees and thousands of supply chain workers will lose their jobs
“These job losses couldn’t come at a worse time for these workers, many of whom will struggle to find work,” said Dave Smith, the AMWU National Vehicle Division Secretary.
The closure of the auto industry is set to hit outer-suburban and regional economies the hardest with unemployment set to increase in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Geelong, and areas around Elizabeth in the Adelaide suburbs.
“The decision taken by the Ford head office in the US is going to take a wrecking ball to these communities. The foundation of these suburbs and the families that live in them have been high-skilled, blue-collar jobs. There are simply not enough new jobs to absorb job losses at this scale,” said Mr Smith.
Research conducted by the union in 2008, following the closure of the Mitsubishi plant in Adelaide, showed that only one-third of workers went on to permanent work six months after the closure. The remainder found themselves unemployed, under-employed, or forced into retirement.
“Today, we are going to send decades of combined experience and skills into the abyss. It’s bad for workers and their families, but it’s also terrible for the Australian economy,” said Mr Smith.
“These are skills that could have built our next submarine fleet, the next large-scale renewable energy facility, or the next train network. Instead, we are throwing these skills on the scrap heap.”
“Successive governments have failed to grasp just how crucial manufacturing is the broader economy. In their eagerness to sign free trade deals and embrace trickle-down economics they took their hands off the wheel and let the market rip through factories like these,” he said.
The union is particularly scathing of the current Coalition Government, following their decision to rip $700million out of the Automotive Transition Scheme, which was set up to help auto suppliers to diversify their product base.
“The Coalition has known about this closure for over 4 years and have refused to lift a finger to help these workers to transition to another industry.
“There has never been a worse time to be an Australian vehicle builder,” he said.
In 2013, vehicle workers were subjected to the spectacle of then Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, goading the remaining vehicle manufacturers (Holden and Toyota) to leave.
“The salt in the wounds for these workers is that the politicians that took a wrecking ball to their jobs remain in cushy jobs of their own,” said Mr Smith
Right until the end, the union has been working hard with Ford management to ensure a decent transition for workers losing their jobs.
The union worked closely with the Andrews Government in Victoria to deliver a $33 million package that included funding for local businesses in Geelong and Broadmeadows that were taking on Ford workers transitioning into other workplaces. The union has also worked closely with Ford to deliver outplacements services, financial counseling, and skills recognition for workers at the facility.
AMWU Victoria Vehicle Division Secretary, Paul Difelice, highlighted the stark contrast between the Andrews Government and the Turnbull Government in delivering for auto workers.
“The Andrews Government has been on the front foot creating new jobs and outplacement placement programs designed to manage these workers back into employment. They are working well with both Ford and the Union to make hard times easier. It’s what Governments ought to be about,” said Mr Difelice.
“Many of these workers are generational employees of Ford. Their mum, dad, uncle or auntie also worked at the factory. For most, this will be one of the toughest days of their lives. We are proud to have fought alongside our members to make this tough situation a littler easier,” said Paul Difelice, AMWU Victoria Vehicle Division Secretary.
Media contact (Broadmeadows) George Simon 0400 055 081
Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079.
Ford closure fact sheet
- The Ford factory has been in operation for 91 years
- In 2013, Ford was the first of three remaining car manufacturers to announce that they would be ceasing production of vehicles in Australia.
- The closure of the facility today will result in 580 direct job losses. This comes on top the 1216 job losses that have already occurred since the announced closure of the facility.
- Figures produced by the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers show that in total, there will be 40,000 jobs lost as a result of the closure of the auto industry
- In 2011, under the previous Labor Government, an Automotive Transition Scheme (ATS) was set up to assist supply chain firms to diversify their production to non-automotive sections of the manufacturing sector. There is currently $800 million worth of funding that the Turnbull Government has refused to release to firms.
- The Andrews Victorian Government currently has a variety of assistance packages that include:
- Skill’s and Job Centres
- South East Automotive Transition Program ($8.4 million)
- Jobs Victoria Employment Network services (JVEN) ($39 million)
- Back-to-work Scheme for Automotive workers ($15 million)
- Automotive Supply Chain Training Initiatives ($30 million)
- Future Industry Manufacturing Funds and various other incentives for business
- Despite commentary about the extent of government assistance to auto production, a comparison of car-making nations worldwide shows that Australia has the lowest level of industry assistance to vehicle manufacturing globally.
- Parts of the Ford facility will continue to operate in Australia including a testing facility in Geelong and a design centre in Broadmeadows
- Following the closure of the Mitsubishi facility in 2008, the AMWU conducted research that found only one-third of employees went on to find permanent employment after six months. Six months on, the remaining workers were unemployed, underemployed, or retired.
- In 2017, Holden production and Toyota production are also set to close.