Car industry’s future hard to know: components maker

The future of the shrinking automotive manufacturing sector in Australia is hard to predict and redundant workers may find it difficult to gain employment elsewhere, according to Japanese company Hirotec.

In an interview with the ABC, the company’s HR manager Alan King and company director Tex Igarashi said that it was a very hard question whether or not the sector was sustainable. Hirotec makes parts including doors and bonnets.

“Our workforce have got skills that may not necessarily be transferable to other industries. So, you know, they're caught in a catch 22 situation: do we stay here or do we move on?” said King of the difficulties facing his workers.

King when prompted that employees would be concerned about a repeat of 2009, when Hirotec was forced to cut staff hours in response to slow demand, and said that he didn’t know the exact effect of Holden’s redundancies would be on his business. Hirotec is a supplier to Holden, but not Ford, which announced last month that it would stop manufacturing in Australia in 2016.

“I think that, if people had a choice of being in the automotive industry or being in some other industry, they would take that opportunity to move on,” said King.

Director Igarashi said that he was “between” being optimistic and pessimistic about the industry’s future, and it was hard to say where things were headed.

“It is very, very difficult to forecast the future of the auto industry in Australia. Cost is very expensive comparing to other country like Thailand and so on.”