AUSTRALIA: Irate union slams Ford 'Detroit edict' as costing 6,000 jobs
Ford's decision to axe production in Australia has provoked fury at one of Australia's largest unions that estimates the cascade effect of shuttering plants will cost up to 6,000 jobs.
The US automaker announced it would cease manufacture at the Broadmeadows car assembly and Geelong engine manufacturing and stamping plants in 2016 but the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), representing 100,000 employees, has slammed the "edict handed down by Detroit" as a devastating blow to Victoria state communities.
"Our members have gone home today (23 May) on pay and they have the terrible task of telling their families," AMWU national secretary, Paul Bastian, told just-auto from Melbourne. "We will be challenging both the tate and federal governments - we will be demanding to sit down and talk to the state government.
"We were really annoyed what we got handed down as an edict from Detroit that, whether we liked it or not, it was game over, red rover."
Ford says some 1,200 direct jobs will be lost, but the AMWU contends the total will be nearer 6,000 as the multiplier effect of a further 3,000-3,500 posts go at Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, as well as up to 1,500 more positions disappearing at those "seeding off" component makers.
"Everyone knew there were problems at Ford, but [this] has been a devastating blow to the workers and the community," said Bastian. "The auto sector is struggling because of the crisis where the exchange rate [of] the Australian dollar is well above the US dollar.
"It has [been] hammering to the automotive sector and manufacturing jobs in this country. Japan has been prepared to intervene in their currency to protect their jobs and interests and we have seen the yen devalue by 25%. That means yen-based imports are killing the auto sector."
Bastian took aim at Australian governments "of both persuasions," saying bi-lateral trade agreements that have been inked were "duds", while he also slammed Australia's tariff regime as "one of the most open" in the world.
"It has just been one bevy of policy disasters, one after the other," said Bastian. "At least this government has got some 'skin in the game' which is A$1bn to lift our competitiveness internationally."
Bastian also fired a broadside at Australia's opposition party which some commentators believe will assume power in the forthcoming elections in September.
"The opposition - that everyone seems to tout as the next government - seems to have nothing on the table," he said.
"We were pretty irate today. We want to see what Ford is going to bring to the table."
The AMWU estimates there are 200,000 jobs dependent on the auto sector in Australia.
The Victorian state government was not immediately available for comment.