EXCLUSIVE: AUSTRALIA: New strike threat at Holden

By just-auto.com editorial team | 20 August 2001

General Motors' affiliate Holden and auto unions will go before Australia's Industrial Relations Commission tomorrow (Tuesday) in a bid to settle stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations, writes Mike Duffy.

Several key issues are still to be resolved before the company is prepared to begin talks on pay increases.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union will present a report to shop stewards on Wednesday in the lead-up to mass meetings of workers on Friday.

If a new three year enterprise bargaining agreement cannot be struck before Friday, workers could elect to stage random strikes and overtime bans. The exisitng EBA expired on August 15.

The company returned to work only last week after a two-week strike at Australia's only steering column component company brought assembly lines at Ford, Holden and Mitsubishi to a standstill.

The strike cost Holden 5,150 cars, worth $A170 million, and Holden is looking to bring in additional shifts to recover some lost production.

The company has increased daily production to 580 cars as it prepares to launch its facelifted Commodore next week and the long-awaited Monaro Coupe later in the year.

Outsourcing of manufacturing procedures, the right to charge non-unionists a $A500 union bargaining agent fee and rostered days off are three of the issues still to be resolved.

The AMWU today served notice on Holden of workplace disruptions. Under the Federal Workplace Relations Act, workers must give 72 hours' notice before staging any industrial action or face heavy fines.

AMWU state secretary John Camillo said: "We have served on the company notice of protective action in case mass meetings of workers vote to commence rolling stopages."

Unions are claiming pay increases of 18% in the wake of 15% increases granted by Ford Australia and Mitsubishi Motors.

"In the absence of a resolution, workers have the right to determine their own fate," Camillo said.