Union launches petition to save auto industry

The Australian automotive manufacturing industry has had a rough ride over the past year and the road ahead looks even rockier with the Coalition’s proposal to cut funding to the sector, which could see more car manufacturing jobs on the line.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has today launched a petition calling on the Federal Parliament to continue supporting the local car manufacturing industry and save the more than 200,000 jobs in the local car and auto-component industry.

The news follows last week’s shock announcement that Toyota Australia will axe 350 manufacturing jobs to make its local operations more economically viable and efficient against tougher global market conditions.

In a statement, AMWU National Secretary Dave Oliver said that hundreds of workers had already signed the petition, which called for Opposition leader Tony Abbott to cancel his proposed cuts to auto industry funding and commit to bipartisan support for the Australian car industry.

"Despite the car industry’s value to Australia, the Coalition are set to end their support for the industry by refusing to commit to any assistance beyond 2015, denying the industry $1 billion in the years to 2020,” Oliver said in the statement.

"The Coalition’s policy would send a death rattle through the Australian car industry and the entire Australian manufacturing industry.”

The AMWU is arguing that the Coalition’s policy is short-sighted and will jeopardise existing as well as future manufacturing jobs and has called on the Opposition declare whether they do actually support Australian manufacturing workers or not.

Oliver said that unless the Coalition provides a clear commitment, there are serious doubts whether Australia can build a sustainable and globally competitive car manufacturing industry that the country wants and needs.

Last week, AMWU secretary – vehicle division, Ian Jones noted a cultural shift in the auto industry saying that ‘enforced redundancies’ are now becoming the norm under current enterprise agreement conditions.

Automotive manufactures Holden and Ford are also feeling the effects of a high Australian dollar and reduced export sales and are both expected to receive Government bailouts in the coming weeks. However, it is unclear whether the bailouts will save production jobs at the companies. Toyota has refused any bailout to prop-up its local operations