Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bye bye American Pie as Ford guts Geelong's plant

from w
Yesterday was a sad day for Geelong with the announcement by Ford. The Geelong Advertiser today as well as many Australian papers ran the lead story of the Ford factory in Geelong being closed down in three years. Australia is losing so much of its secondary industry. This is a bad day for Geelong as the knock-on effect will mean about 3000 jobs will go. Already 15,000 workers from Geelong commute to Melbourne each day for work as our city runs out of work options.

Bye, bye American pie: Ford sacks 600 workers
Jeff Whalley

Long-time Ford employee Susie Baykiz was among the hundreds of employees coming to grips with yesterday's announcement. FORD is gutting the city's iconic engine plant and sacking 600 workers.

Confirming the worst-held fears of many automotive workers, the announcement brought heartbreak and anxiety to those affected.

In Geelong for the announcement, Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said the shutdown was an essential part of making sure the company survived as car buyers turned away from fuel-hungry vehicles.``This is not an issue where one would say it is a failure of government policy. This is us responding to changes in the market place to secure the future of Ford in Australia,'' he said.

Mr Gorman yesterday said that the company would abandon the I6 engines made in Geelong in 2010 to be replaced with cheaper US V6 imports.

He said the new engines would be compatible with diesel fuel and would be used on the traditional Aussie-made Falcon, Falcon ute and Territory models.

``This is a difficult decision, on a very difficult day in the history of Ford,'' Mr Gorman said.

But walking out of the gates of Ford yesterday, worker Shaun Patching only expressed exasperation.``I'm pretty down, actually. I'm like all the other guys. I've got a wife and kids and a mortgage . . . they have left the whole of Geelong high and dry. This is going to have flow-on effects that are devastating to these people,'' Mr Patching said.

Political and city leaders scrambled to make comment and draw positives to a shell-shocked Geelong community.Australian Manufacturing and Workers' Union federal secretary Ian Jones pulled no punches, equating its impact on Geelong to the Pyramid collapse in early 1990s.

``My understanding is that some 10,000 jobs within the region are dependent upon automotive manufacturing, with $250 million of salaries paid as a consequence,'' Mr Jones said.

Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood said he was seeking urgent meetings with Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and State Treasurer John Brumby.``I will be seeking appropriate state and federal government assistance that is going to meet the needs of our workforce in the future,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Macfarlane and Victorian Premier Steve Bracks announced a $24 million Geelong Investment and Innovation Fund to offer grants for projects which would create new jobs and investment in the region.``I'm confident (Ford's Geelong workers) will have new jobs through this,'' he told the Geelong Advertiser.

The Labor member for Corio Gavan O'Connor said he was also scheduling an urgent meeting with the Industry Minister. ``Ford and Australian governments have a moral responsibility to this Geelong workforce which has already made significant contribution to Ford Australia's past profitability,'' Mr O'Connor said.

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Blogger The Moody Minstrel said...

3000 jobs? Just what is the population of Geelong, anyway?

7:16 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I think there are about 270,000 people in Geelong at present, so the story about Ford might seem insignificant but it's a Geelong icon and migrants over many years worked/work at Ford. We do not want to be a dormitory suburb of Melbourne. Already, thousands of workers go up to Melbourne every day on the trains or on drive on the freeway to work.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Good leadership will pull your community through - I have seen the same in my small part of the world. I will cross my fingers for you.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

There's already talk of retraining and also someone reckons we should upgrade a nearby airport and market the Geelong area as a starting off point for backpackers. The airport is Avalon, 20 minutes from the centre of Geelong but at present doesn't have customs, etc. so when fog redirected some planes from Melbourne airport last week, the passengers had to sit inside the plane for hours and hours!

5:56 PM  

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