Some 200,000 jobs are at stake, and the question is whether Australia is going to compete in the global race for good, skilled jobs or give up and let car manufacturing move overseas, the AMWU says.
GM reportedly demanding $200 million a year to keep manufacturing vehicles in Australia.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union is calling on the new Australian government to abandon its inquiry into the country's car-manufacturing industry and provide an immediate cash injection.
AMWU vehicle division secretary Dave Smith tells the Australian Associated Press the automotive industry is in crisis and urgent action is needed.
The government should forget about a Productivity Commission inquiry, he says.
“Think about jobs, think about Australian workers and just get in there and support the industry at a time when it most needs it,” he says.
Smith says local manufacturing won't survive without co-investment.
“Every car on Australian roads – imported vehicles, locally made vehicles – is subsidized in one form or another,” he says. “If the government can't get its head around that, the industry will just simply go to a country that will support it. You can't just look at it as money. It's an investment in Australia's future.”
Smith says in a news release’s move to reopen its union contract highlights the need for urgent government action to support car industry jobs.
“The Abbott government’s dithering on the issue of co-investment and its continued failure to make a clear decision in favor of supporting 200,000 jobs is putting the industry at risk,” Smith says.
“There are over 200,000 quality jobs at stake here and an industry that provides our nation with great products and important advanced manufacturing skills, which have (spin-off) benefits across the economy.”
Smith says the simple question for the government is whether it is going to compete in the global race for good, skilled jobs or give up and let car manufacturing move overseas.
“The local industry is struggling with a high dollar, unequal trade arrangements and remaining competitive at home in the most open auto market in the developed world,” he says. “Unlike our competitors in auto in the U.S., Japan and Korea, our government has a view that you don’t intervene in your currency to artificially devalue it and protect our industry.”
The Australian newspaper reports GM Holden has demanded the federal government commit to an annual subsidy “in excess of A$200 million ($189 million)” a year beginning in 2015 to keep the company manufacturing vehicles in Australia.
It says GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux told senior coalition members of parliament before the September election that the company requires ongoing, annual payments to maintain its domestic operations.