Manufacturing News

Workers serve up auto petition to Canberra; don’t kill auto industry Abbott

Workers from across Australia’s three auto manufacturing companies, including Holden and Toyota, this week visited Canberra to urge Federal Opposition leader, Tony Abbott and his party to support auto manufacturing and end their controversial anti-subsidy policy.

Abbott’s policy includes the proposal to cut $500 million in government funding and to end support for the industry by refusing to commit to any assistance beyond 2015. This would reportedly deny the industry access to almost $1 billion in assistance between now and 2020.

The workers, who are members of Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), also brought with them a petition of 5000 signatures in support of the Australia car industry to parliament.  The petition was deliver by Holden maintenance fitter Scott Cruz.

The petition, which was launched by the AMWU on 30 January 2012, called 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 group of workers also met with Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and the Coalition’s Industry spokesperson, Sophie Mirabella.

“Sophie Mirabella wasn’t interested in supporting the automotive industry and manufacturing as a whole, despite our visit,” Cruz said in a statement released by the AMWU.

“It seems Tony Abbott and the Liberals are more interested in removing the carbon tax but it’s their policy of no investment that is going to kill the auto industry.”

However, Cruz said he was impressed with the group’s meeting with the Prime Minister and the Manufacturing Minister, Kim Carr.

“[Kim Carr is] on top of every industry and he had answers to everyone’s questions about their sites,” Cruz said.

“The relationship the AMWU has with the government is going to benefit us in the future.”

Also present at the meeting was production worker and delegate at Holden’s Elizabeth plant Michael Etherington.

Etherington reiterated the importance of co-investment to ensure a strong automotive manufacturing future in Australia.

“We’re looking for the Coalition) to basically match the commitment that the current government has shown to manufacturing in the auto industry; that’s what we’re after,” Etherington said.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and a bit of nervousness obviously. Basically what we’re probably looking at, about the next 12 months will set the Australian car industry up for about the next 10 years. We need to make good decisions now.”

The local automotive industry employs approximately 46,000 people directly and over 200,000, including supply chains.

Toyota Australia recently announced that it will axe 350 manufacturing jobs to make its local operations more economically viable and efficient against tougher global market conditions. Toyota has refused any bailout to prop-up its local operations.

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.

Holden this week madea “final” offer to the South Australian Government under a $200m bailout deal. The SA Government is currently considering the offer, 

Image (left to right): Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Hakan Afacan from Toyota, Scott Cruz & Michael Etherington from Holden. Image courtesy of AMWU.

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