Pressure is growing on the federal government to provide generous support to Holden workers set to lose their jobs and to protect other jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Auto parts workers protested outside Liberal Party headquarters in Melbourne on Monday, with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) calling for a multibillion-dollar package to fund training and to help the auto supply chain in the wake of Holden’s decision to cease local vehicle production by the end of 2017.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says direct support for Holden workers must be significantly more generous than federal funds provided for Ford workers facing a similar fate.
“This is a much bigger issue that will have effects that play out over a much larger element of the South Australian workforce,” Mr Weatherill said.
“So we would expect a very much more substantial package.”
The federal government is expected to announce its assistance package for workers this week, with component producers in Victoria and South Australia also coming together to map out a future for the sector.
Mr Weatherill said meetings in Melbourne on Wednesday and in Adelaide on Thursday would be presented with plans to help diversify and grow the estimated 25 per cent of companies expected to survive Holden’s withdrawal.
He said it was also important to support other businesses that might not be expected to survive but that had elements of their work that could be saved.
“We don’t want those businesses sent to the bottom of the harbour with some administrator coming in and just wrecking them for spare parts,” the premier said.
The SA government revealed it has talked with large international companies with a view to keeping the Holden assembly plant building vehicles after General Motors pulls out.
The plan would involve a small volume of prestige vehicles being built while military vehicles and vehicles for the mining sector also remain options.
Holden has not detailed its plans for the plant, including when it will start to scale down production and reduce its 1600-strong workforce.
Mr Weatherill said it was important consumers continued to buy the company’s locally made vehicles for now.
“We want people to retain their commitment to Holden and we will be doing everything that we can to sustain that workforce,” he said.