The white-col­lar job-loss blues

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Welcome - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

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.

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