Holden will soon enter discussions with workers at its Elizabeth manufacturing plant on ways to reduce labour costs and increase productivity, the company's managing director Mike Devereux said today.
Mr Devereux said that Holden has not presented any proposals to unions or its workers, with the discussions focused on giving employees the opportunity to have their say on making the company more competitive.
He said that "every single option is on the table", meaning that pay cuts and further redundancies have not been ruled out. Holden workers will be required to vote on changes to their positions and entitlements in August.
Details of the discussions will remain confidential until the August vote, Mr Devereux said. For now, it has been confirmed that workers have not been asked to take a pay cut.
He said that less than half of Holden's award-free employees, including executive staff, have received a pay increase in the last three years.
"It's no secret Australia is one of the most expensive places in the world to build things," Mr Devereux said.
“This is about giving Holden employees a direct say in their future. We can’t survive as a local manufacturer if we’re not competitive and we don’t reduce our costs."
"Holden is seeking support from its manufacturing workforce at Elizabeth to help achieve significant annual cost savings. Holden, unions and employee representatives are working together on this."
Mr Devereux reiterated comments made during Holden's May announcement on its $153 million loss for the 2012 financial year, stating that the company makes a loss on models built in Australia, profiting only on imported models.
He said that while Holden must work to be globally competitive, so to must Australia's industry policy.
“Holden is aggressively pricing and marketing its cars to compete against imports which benefit from the high Australian dollar and the country’s internationally low tariff levels," he said.
"As a local manufacturer Holden is asking for a fair go – Australia must be able to compete fairly on the world stage."
“We need clear, consistent and competitive government policy to help secure a long-term future for manufacturing.”
A report by the University of Adelaide last year said that if Holden were to stop manufacturing in South Australia, the state could lose between $25 and $83 million in tax revenue, and around $133 million in wages for employees of Holden and parts suppliers.
"It doesn't provide argument for or against [government-funded] support other than it makes the point that Holden is a very important operation within the South Australian context," the university's Professor Barry Burgan told Fairfax last year.
Today's conference follows an announcement in April that Holden has offered voluntary redundancies to some works in a bid to cut 400 positions at the Elizabeth plant by July.
According to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, only around 300 workers have so far agreed to take redundancies.
"When the time comes at the end of June or early July we'll sit down and work how we're going to deal with that situation and why they need to reduce further numbers," AMWU secretary John Camillo told the ABC this week.
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