The announcement that Holden is axing the Commodore nameplate has come just weeks after survey findings revealed that former Holden workers are still struggling to find full-time work two years on from the closure of its South Australian factory. While their new CEO says the axing is because the company will be focusing on SUVs and utes, a 2013 proposal from the AMWU to manufacture an SUV model in Australia was rejected.
“We knew that there was an opportunity to keep vehicle manufacturing going in Australia by producing an SUV model and we took that proposal to Holden in 2013, well before the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth plant in 2017,” said Scott Batchelor, AMWU SA Assistant State Secretary.
“Holden says SUVs and utes have increased to 76 per cent of its sales this year. That increase is something our workers could have been a part of but instead we’ve seen those jobs lost overseas, with the so-called transition for auto workers leaving most worse off.
“18 per cent of ex auto workers in South Australia are still unemployed which is almost three times the national average of around 5 per cent.
“Even for those workers who have found other employment, the majority are in more precarious part-time, casual, or contract employment where wages and conditions just don’t match up to what they were previously on,” said Batchelor.
The end of this Australian icon is a stark reminder of the human cost of missed opportunities in manufacturing industries and the importance of industry, government and unions working together to plan for the future.
“We have a highly skilled auto industry workforce in South Australia but those skills are now being underutilised and it’s workers who are bearing the brunt of missed opportunities.
“The South Australian Government has buried their head in the sand about how the end of vehicle manufacturing has really played out for most workers.
“The AMWU had a plan to keep vehicle manufacturing going in South Australia and to see the end of the Holden Commodore, a staple on our roads, is an unfortunate reminder that things could have been different for the industry and its workers,” said Batchelor.