HOLDEN WORKERS VOTE YES ON PAY FREEZE
Holden is launching its new imported Trax crossover in Melbourne today, but across the border in South Australia, workers have voted to accept a pay freeze that could save the company's local production program.
The proposal, put to workers last week ahead of a secret ballot today, painted a grim picture: accept the deal and Australian manufacturing may continue, vote 'no' and the carmaker could close its Elizabeth plant in 2016.
Around 1500 staff at the Elizabeth plant cast their votes today, and although Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) state secretary John Camillo has described the vote as "decisive", the numbers have not been released.
Before the agreement can be finalised, employees at Holden's Melbourne offices will also be asked to vote later this week. But, as the changes will not affect their working conditions, it is believed most will abstain.
If approved, the new agreement will see the cancellation of a three percent pay increase scheduled for November, but workers will escape a 10 percent cut proposed in the early stages of talks.
The carmaker will also cap redundancy payments for new employees, and estabish changes to current shift arrangements.
Speaking with ABC News, AMWU said that workers had indicated before the vote that while some sacrifices would be accepted, a pay cut was not among them.
"What workers have indicated is that they're prepared to give away the 3 per cent wage increase in November this year that is in their current collective agreement," he said.
"They're prepared to be more flexible in regards to working reasonable overtime, in regards to flexible working hours."
The deal will also need Holden to recommit to plans for producing two new models in Australia from 2016, requiring a $1 billion investment over the next 10 years.
Holden is not commenting on where it will go from here until the vote is finalised in Melbourne this week, and further discussions must still be held after the coming Federal Election.
The carmaker says it will need to wait on results of the electrion before committing to new models and stated goals of continuing local production until 2022.
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