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Holden recruits as VE Series II, Cruze loom

Now hiring: Holden requires 50 new production workers at its Elizabeth plant to join the second shift when it resumes in November.

Holden mounts factory recruitment drive as supplier Futuris follows suit

9 Sep 2010

UPDATED: 10/09/2010HOLDEN has begun a recruitment drive for 50 new production workers at its assembly plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, as it returns to a second shift in November to coincide with the arrival of the VE Series II Commodore and tooling up for the Cruze small car.

And as a direct result, parts supplier Futuris Automotive has also announced that it will advertise up to 60 extra positions at its Adelaide factory, in order to keep up with Holden’s increased production.

Holden manufacturing operations executive director Martyn Cray said the new workers at its Elizabeth plant would start early in November and join the afternoon shift when it resumes on November 15, although the jobs are initially 12-month fixed-term contracts.

This is more than the 30 workers estimated when Holden announced in June that it would resume a second shift, returning all workers at Elizabeth – around 2300 employees – to full employment after the company moved to a single shift in April last year.

Since then, production workers have been alternating work – ranging from one week on/one week off to one week off in 12 – on reduced pay in an effort to avoid retrenchments as Holden scaled down production to 340 vehicles a day – about half the normal two-shift capacity of 620.

 center imageGeneral Motors North America president Mark Reuss (left) and Ohio governor Ted Strickland (right).

The increased line rate – which is still far from capacity, at 430 a day – has enabled Holden to hire the new workers, albeit on a contract basis, and could see more employed should demand rise “in the longer term”.

This is likely to come from an increase in export orders rather than domestic sales, with Holden preparing to build thousands of additional long-wheelbase sedans, starting in the next few months, as part of its new Chevrolet police vehicle contract in the US.

“The recruitment is good news for the manufacturing industry in South Australia and shows we are turning the corner this year,” said Mr Cray.

“There’s a real sense of excitement at Elizabeth – we started building Series II Commodore this week and we’re very happy with all the work being done to introduce Holden Cruze to the production line early next year.

“We have a really great team of dedicated and enthusiastic employees at Holden and we’re looking for the best candidates to join us and help play a part in our future success.”

The flow-on effect to suppliers has become evident with Futuris Automotive’s decision to add 50 to 60 additional workers by Christmas, after cutting 90 jobs in April last year as a direct response to Holden’s decision to cut production to one shift.

This followed cuts of around 100 jobs late in 2008, for which Futuris blamed production cutbacks at local car-makers, the cancellation or delay of vehicle programs and the deepening economic crisis.

The recruitment drive came this week as the Cruze entered production in the US and as Holden auctioned off plant and equipment from its decommissioned Family II engine production facility in Port Melbourne.

Holden had attempted to sell the factory as a going concern, which would have enabled production of the four-cylinder engines – which ended last year – to continue.

Despite no longer meeting Australian emissions standards with the move to Euro 4 in July this year, the Family II engines could still be used in vehicles sold in countries with less stringent regulations.

However, no sale eventuated, leaving Holden no alternative but to auction off millions of dollars worth of plant and equipment.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, former Holden chairman and now GM North America president Mark Reuss – who played a key role in the Australian Cruze production program – drove the first American-built Cruze off the end of its Lordstown assembly line in front of around 2000 plant workers and several hundred community members.

“The rebirth of the US economy starts in Lordstown, Ohio, with the Chevrolet Cruze,” Mr Reuss told the crowd. “The Cruze is the finest compact car GM has ever made, period.”

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