Holden drops 600 workers from Commodore assembly plant

Looks like the sometimes-suicidally-prone manufacturing robots at General Motors are taking jobs away from some real people. The Australian is reporting that up to 600 Holden employees will be getting their pink slips in the company's Elizabeth plant in South Australia. The Elizabeth plant is where the Holden Commodore, among other vehicles, is manufactured. The explanation is that the company is "adjusting to improved high technology automated operations." Sounds like language employed to gain favor with future robot overlords.

Seriously, though, the downsizing will begin with voluntary buyouts and workers will be given government retraining and other assistance. The Elizabeth plant currently employs 4,500 workers and has been touted as being one of the "most flexible and efficient operations in the world."

The cutbacks come just as the company gears up for production of the ute and wagon versions of the new-for-2006 Commodore range. That vehicle will be the basis of the new Pontiac G8, which will either be built in the States eventually or immediately to save costs. So we have workers doing too good of a job building a car that might be a bit big for current tastes.

Thanks for the tip, Daniel!

[Source: The Australian]


Holden Announces Elizabeth Plant Restructure

GM Holden Ltd will reduce its South Australian operations by 600 positions in coming months due to increased plant efficiency.

The efficiency has been driven by Holden's recent $532 million investment in the Elizabeth plant.

Additionally, in line with Holden's business plan to phase out of VZ Commodore models in 2007, the Elizabeth plant is transitioning to only VE Commodore production.

VE Commodore has also been designed by Holden engineers to be easier to manufacture than previous Commodore models.

Maximising plant efficiency is a critical factor in Holden's future business strategy to secure a long term future in Australia and maintain competitiveness as a global automotive manufacturer.

Daily production will be gradually revised from its current level of 620 cars to approximately 520 cars in March, and then back to maximum capacity of 620 cars per day by October 2007.

GM Holden Executive Director, Rod Keane, today said the decision was a difficult message to deliver to Elizabeth employees but was necessary to ensure the plant operated as competitively as possible in coming years.

"By continually improving our operational efficiency we will ensure GM Holden remains viable in Australia and in the global marketplace," Mr Keane said

"Holden has a strong business strategy to ensure success and security for the future.

"This strategy is increasingly important as Holden moves to a business model which will see our production mix include up to 50% export vehicles.

"We have to make changes for a long-term future but at the same time, it's very difficult for our employees and their families."

Employees in each shift were advised of the decision today, and were asked to consider voluntary separation packages. All employee entitlements were defined and protected under the 2004 enterprise bargaining agreement.

Mr Keane said the company would do everything it could to help employees and would seek to work with the Federal and State Governments, unions, suppliers and other major South Australian firms.

Mr Keane said GM Holden operated one of the world's most flexible manufacturing facilities, and would continue to capitalise on this advantage in securing future business for Holden's remaining 3,500 employees.

He added GM Holden was one of Australia's largest private sector investors, having committed more than $1.8 billion to its operations in the past three years alone.

"GM Holden has invested a lot in Adelaide and will continue to do so. Our business plan guarantees we have a long-term future here." he said.

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