Dandenong South workers among hundreds stood down as plant shuts doors


ABOUT 400 auto workers may have lost their jobs at plants in Melbourne – including Dandenong South – and

Autodom Limited — which supplies parts vital to Ford, Holden, Toyota and
truck maker Kenworth — has announced it is closing both its factories
“indefinitely” while it comes up with a restructuring plan.

It also issued a statement all but demanding the major car companies and
state and federal government help it to rebuild — or face the huge costs of it
going under.

The company’s shares have been suspended on the Australian Securities
Exchange after it failed over several months of negotiations to come to an
agreement with the auto companies that buy its products.

Autodom owns DAIR Industries, which makes makes rear bumper assemblies, foot
brakes, clutch mechanisms, hood hinges and parking brakes, and employs about 150
people in Dandenong South and another 30 or so in New Gisborne.

A statement issued by Autodom said it had been “forced” to make the difficult
decision because car makers had not given it the deal it needed to remain

“The closure of the facilities, which collectively employ 400 people, is
indefinite,” the statement said.

Chief executive Calvin Stead said the business’s failure could potentially
result in significant direct costs to the car industry and taxpayers.

“We need time and assistance to reorganise ourselves and structurally change
the direction in which we are headed,” Mr Stead said.

Australia’s car industry has slashed the number of cars it builds annually in
recent years.

Mr Stead said that, because of this low volume of cars being built, his
firm’s business could not continue without mutual cooperation between the auto
companies and the component sector.

Governments also had “an important role” to play, he said.

Leigh Diehm, the state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers
Union, said staff had arrived at the plant from 5.30am. At a 7am meeting they
were being stood down.

The stand-down is, technically, until Friday — but the reality is it could be
a permanent dismissal.

‘‘They are looking for some money from the federal government to assist in
their so-called restructure, and some sort of concessions from the car
companies,’’ he said.

Autodom’s closure will affect Australia’s three main car manufacturers —
Holden, Ford and Toyota — but will have the most immediate impact on Ford in

‘‘If the company goes into administration it could be a situation where the
car companies could find themselves without a supplier,’’ Mr Diehm said.

However, all three car companies had ‘‘quite a bit of stock in reserve’’, he
said, meaning it would take time for the effects to flow through.

Mr Diehm called on the Baillieu government to step in, along with Canberra.
“Ted Baillieu needs to be involved.

He’s constantly out there with [Manufacturing minister] Richard Dalla Riva in
the media saying he supports local manufacturing. Well, what support are they
giving here?”

The state opposition’s spokesman on manufacturing, Adem Somyurek, said the
Baillieu Government had previously been ‘‘dragged kicking and screaming’’ to
support the Victorian automotive industry, and could no longer sit back and
watch as people lost their jobs.

‘‘The Baillieu government must start supporting the automotive manufacturing
sector in Victoria and the thousands of workers it employs,’’ he said.

Unions, car companies and the state and federal governments have been
contacted for comment.