Holden workers get pay rise as company’s future hangs in the balance

Holden’s workers will get a 3 per cent wage increase beginning on November 15 as the federal government decides on a new cash injection to keep the car company manufacturing in Australia.

The Australian Financial Review describes the rise as “bittersweet” for workers.

A three-year pay freeze was voted for by Holden’s workforce in August, with the company saying that savings were essential for its survival.

The AMWU’s John Camillo justified the reversal of the halt on salary increases by saying that at the time of the vote it was thought that it would have been announced by now whether or not Holden would quit Australia. The pay rise would not go ahead if Holden made the decision to stay beyond 2016.

News Corp reported yesterday that the car maker had decided to make changes at its Elizabeth plant body shop over the December/January break, investing $250,000 to do so.

“The deal may not be done (to secure Holden’s manufacturing future) but this is a prudent move,” an unnamed source told News.

“In the scheme of things, this is not a large sum of money to spend when to delay it would cost much more because it involves shutting the factory for an extended period.”

The investment for the production of a next generation Commodore was not a sign that Holden’s future in the country was secure, however.

The federal government will wait until after a current Productivity Commission inquiry has handed down its report into auto industry subsidies in March 2014 before deciding whether or not to provide Holden with the extra assistance it has requested. The commission’s interim report will be made on December 20.

Holden’s future has been a matter of speculation for those following the industry lately, with some claiming that managing director Mike Devereux’s decision to accept a position with parent company General Motors in Shanghai was a sign that Holden’s fate is sealed.

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