Tony O'Kane | Feb 12, 2009

Yesterday's announcement by General Motors US that it was slashing its white-collar workforce by 10,000 may have had more than a few Holden employees loosening their collars and wiping sweat from their brows.

Fortunately, it appears that workers at GM's Australian subsidiary can rest easy for now as the US parent's decision won't have any immediate effect on Holden's local operations.

"The announcement out of the US overnight doesn't trigger any immediate reactions for Holden but at the same time we are certainly looking at what needs to be done in Australia,'' Holden spokesman Scott Whiffin said.

The writing is on the wall though and while Holden's workforce is secure for now, the poor sales environment and sliding consumer confidence means that it will be carefully monitoring its situation. With a falling market share in the domestic market and overseas sales flagging, Holden desperately needs to contain costs. Production slowdowns in Adelaide have already sent many workers home on paid leave.

Something may have to give sooner or later, but what remains to be seen is who or what will be cut adrift. Blue-collar workers? White-collar workers? An entire product line? Holden has yet to make the call:

"We haven't made any decisions yet, but we are looking at all aspects of the business and fundamentally asking how do we structure Holden to protect it for Australia and future generations," Mr. Whiffin said.

"The harsh reality is that we're facing some big challenges, some big decisions."

[The Age]

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