Holden cuts second shift at Elizabeth assembly plant

GM Holden will cut back its South Australia assembly operations to a single shift from May, shedding 150 contract workers and allowing the car-maker to assemble cars in less time.

The company will be shedding the second assembly shift at its Elizabeth plant, along with about 150 contract and casual jobs, and adding the remaining permanent workers to the main shift so they can assemble cars more quickly.

Holden says this will help to ‘reduce costs and production time per vehicle’, as the company gears-up for lessened export demand in 2012.

In August last year, the automotive manufacturer raised production levels from 430 to 480 units per day, due to the success of the locally-made Cruze.

From May 2012, Holden will cut-back to ‘around 400’ vehicles per day, due to weakening export demand.

The new, ‘fast’ production cycle will take 60 seconds, instead of the previous 125 seconds it took to assemble a car.

A Holden spokesperson told Manmonthly.com.au that workers will be happier, as they will be doing ‘less tasks in less time and improving the quality of those tasks’.

"Holden has set a very clear business strategy to grow sustainably, lower its cost base and make a small car in Elizabeth to ensure we are profitable on domestic production," Holden general manager, Mike Devereux, said.

"Our results show what a success this has been for the industry. In 2011 Holden made around 90,000 vehicles, up more than 35 per cent or 24,000 units compared to the previous year, with the growth driven largely by the Cruze hatch and sedan."

The company claims the change is due to export pressures and the high Australian dollar, which will limit growth for the rest of the year.

No permanent jobs will be affected by this shift change, the company claims.

Industry and Innovation Minister, Greg Combet, says Holden’s strategy is ‘understandable’, though disappointing given that casual workers will lose their jobs.

"Any job losses are unfortunate, but the Gillard Labor Government will assist in whatever way in can, those whose jobs are lost in the changes," Combet said.

Manufacturing Minister Senator Kim Carr said Holden is trying extremely hard to ensure its staff members are affected as little as possible.

"GM Holden has gone to great lengths in the past to keep its skilled workforce intact, even when it seemed like large-scale redundancies were unavoidable. I know that they have also tried hard on this occasion to avoid any job losses, but there’s comes a point where difficult decisions have to be made," he said.