The white-collar job-loss blues
THE end of car manufacturing in Australia will wipe out thousands of white-collar jobs at Toyota, Holden and Ford, it has emerged. Contrary to earlier claims, it is also expected to lead to the closure of dozens of Holden and Ford dealerships.
More than 4000 office workers support the assembly and logistics operations at Australia’s three car makers and some roles will be redundant once the factories close by the end of 2017.
It will bring the true tally of job losses to about 8000 at the car makers alone, once whitecollar workers join their 2500 colleagues on the factory floor at Toyota, the 1700 at Holden and the 1500 at Ford.
“There will be significant (white-collar) job losses across all three brands, no question,” a Toyota executive says.
Meanwhile, despite ads declaring their commitment to Australia, Holden and Ford have to rationalise their dealer networks. Holden has more dealerships than market leader Toyota but sells about half as many cars. Ford has almost as many dealerships as Toyota but its sales tally is less than half the Japanese brand’s.
Holden and Ford sales are at 20-year lows and are likely to fall even further without the preferential treatment given to Australian-made cars in government contracts.
Each Toyota dealer sold an average of 1000 cars last year while Ford and Holden dealers averaged 440 and 480 cars respectively. In comparison, Mazda dealers averaged 825 cars and Hyundai outlets 605.
Holden and Ford would not speculate as to which dealers were vulnerable and repeated their commitment to “the long term”. Senior sources at both say dealer numbers will shrink due to “natural attrition” rather than termination of contracts.
“Ford’s plan since we announced the transformation of our business is to promote profitable and viable dealers,” says Ford Australia spokesman Wes Sherwood.
Are half a dozen Ford dealers about to close, as industry rumour has it? Sherwood says: “We don’t comment on discussions with our dealers.”
At its peak, the Holden network had more than 300 dealers. Today there are 232, still more than any other car brand and, spokesman George Svigos says, “the network will continue to evolve to meet customer needs”.
When Toyota Australia’s factory jobs go, 1400 office staff will be fighting for their desks.
The biggest import brands, Hyundai and Mazda, have 200 and 250 staff respectively. Each sells more cars than Ford and almost as many as Holden.
Ford says it will keep about 1000 designers and engineers to help develop global vehicles. Holden says it will retain at least 100 designers on GM projects.