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Oracle of Delphi

Holden slashes production by 14,000

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Jobs saved, but Holden to stop production for 25 days as global sales slump bites


By DAVID HASSALL 19 November 2008

HOLDEN has scheduled another 25 days of production shutdowns at its Elizabeth plant in the first quarter of 2009 as a result of sagging demand for cars both locally and internationally.

Holden will make about 14,000 fewer cars than expected because of the production slowdown, but the move may save the company from laying off more workers.

The company’s 3400 workers will take home less pay during the three-month period, but Holden will average out their wages so that there are no sudden dips.

Corporate affairs manager for Holden in South Australia, Andrea Matthews, told GoAuto that Holden sales had been “impacted across all markets in 2008”, including the Commodore-based Pontiac G8 in the US and Canada.

But Ms Matthews said that the new G8 GXP model – a high-performance variant powered by the 300kW 6.2-litre LS3 engine – is still proceeding on schedule and went into production at Elizabeth two weeks ago.

And the G8 ‘sport truck’ that was previewed at this year’s New York auto show, which is based on the Commodore Ute, is still expected to go on sale in North America late next year, with production commencing in the third quarter.

Ms Matthews said that the 25 non-production days would consist of three scheduled PDOs (paid days off in return for longer work days), three extra PDOs, five days of annual leave and 14 so-called “market response days” – for which workers will be paid 60 per cent for the first five days and 50 per cent for the remaining nine days.

Workers can consequently expect a net reduction in wages of about 10 per cent between January 14 and March 31.

Holden has had several days off in recent weeks and the latest measures were negotiated with the Manufacturing Workers Union.

MWU spokesman John Camillo acknowledged that the global economic crisis was one of the worst on record and said the union was working together with Holden to get through the resultant sales slump with minimal impact on workers.

Ms Matthews said that no jobs are currently at risk and Holden remains confident in its commitment to maintaining a manufacturing presence at Elizabeth in the future.

“We always say there are no guarantees in the car industry, but what we have preferred to do is introduce these extra non-production days rather than remove jobs,” said Ms Matthews, “and we think our workers clearly prefer this as well.”


Edited by Pontiac Custom-S

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