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Holden closure, Australia: Hundreds of staff, jobs at dealers in limbo

The Advertiser 2020-02-17 18:05:00

The future of hundreds of jobs across Holden’s dealer network remains unclear after parent company General Motors’ decision to close down the brand by the end of the year.

GM and Holden have pledged to work closely with all their workers offering generous redundancy packages to about 600 staff across Australia and New Zealand.

Most will be gone by June.

GM has also committed to provide compensation to more than 200 dealers to allow them to transition to other brands or close down.

They will also have the opportunity to continue as dedicated Holden service centres with the company to maintain a supply of spare parts for at least 10 years.

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But with 185 retail outlets in Australia and 31 in NZ, hundreds of workers could lose their jobs in the months ahead if dealers are forced to shut.

Holden interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina described the brand’s demise as “agonising” but said the company had chased down “every conceivable option” to keep the brand afloat.

“Holden will always have a special place in the development of our countries. As Australia and New Zealand grew, Holden was a part of the engine room fuelling that development,” Mr Aquilina said.

“Unfortunately, all the hard work and talent of the Holden family, the support of our parent company GM and the passion of our loyal supporters have not been enough to overcome our challenges.

“We understand the impact of this decision on our people, our customers, our dealers and our partners and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful transition.”

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The federal government criticised GM for making its decision without consultation though Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared he was not surprised by the move.

“Australian taxpayers put millions into this into multinational company and they let the brand just wither away on their watch,” Mr Morrison said.

However, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union said the government had failed to back the vehicle manufacturing industry.

“This conservative government ... have consistently refused to support Australian manufacturing and we are seeing the result of that, with over 600 jobs being lost at Holden,” union representative Donherra Walmsley said.

The decision to close comes amid plunging domestic sales with demand for Holden vehicles down by almost 29 per cent to just 43,176 in 2019, in a total market down just eight per cent.

Originally published as ‘Agonising’: 600 Holden staff in limbo