Australian Manufacturers Workers' Union (AMWU) national secretary, Paul Bastian, says he welcomes the commitment by new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to the country's industrial sector.

Rudd wrested political control from former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in a dramatic coup last week and just ahead of an imminent general election.

Manufacturing has been thrown into sharp relief by Ford's recent announcement it would cease building in 2016 with the AMWU estimating the exit could cost up to 6,000 direct and supplier jobs.

Hot on the heels of that news came General Motors' Australian subsidiary, Holden's assessment it might not survive unless drastic solutions were found to reduce costs and improve competivity.

The AMWU is nervously eyeing what many in Australia predict will be a win for the current opposition Liberal-led coalition - although Rudd's appointment may alter that - and has thrown its considerable weight behind the new Prime Minister.

The union said it welcomed Rudd's commitment to keep manufacturing as a top priority of the Labour government and the importance of employment in the sector, while praising Gillard's AU$1bn (US$919m) jobs plan passed by the Australian parliament.

"This has the potential to generate as much as AS$6.4bn each year in new work and jobs for Australian manufacturing and Julia Gillard can take much of the credit for that," said Bastian.

Holden is currently discussing its challenges with unions, although chairman and CEO, Mike Devereux is not pulling any punches when it comes to his bleak assessment of the situation.

"We can't survive as a local manufacturer if we're not competitive and we don't reduce our costs," he said.

"All options for improving productivity are on the table. We will work closely with the unions and our people to develop a fair and reasonable proposal in line with other local manufacturers across all industries."

The AMWU however, said it was willing to implement flexible working practices for the sector, which remained "central" to Australia's interest.

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