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Holden, Ford join forces to rescue Autodom

Workers fitting parts to Holden motor car on the assembly line at GM Holden's Elizabeth factory in South Australia. PIC: AFP

...whose factories should be up and running today after last Thursdays shutdown.

The carmakers have agreed to take on Autodoms estimated $6.5 million debt and underwrite the operation of the company while receivers restructure the business after being appointed late last night. An official announcement is expected this morning.

Autodom's previous management is understood to have been dismissed, and the company will likely be broken up into smaller parts. Holden spokesman Craig Cheetham told News Limited that the carmakers "have acted together in the broader interest of the Australian motor industry and its continued ability to build cars and keep people in work".

"Quite clearly, it illustrates our commitment to ensuring that the automotive industry, and the multiplier effect it has on employment across Australia, are important to the country's future," he said. Holden and Ford will not have control of the parts supply operations, but their quick action will ensure there is little or no disruption to their factories in Adelaide and Melbourne respectively.

Holden says workers at its Elizabeth factory are due back today. "If (Autodom) goes back to work in the morning and we get the parts through, it looks like we might make it with very little disruption," Mr Cheetham said last night.

Ford said its employees would be back to work on Wednesday after a compulsory company holiday yesterday and the Melbourne Cup public holiday in Victortia today. "We have told our employees to be back at work on Wednesday," spokeswoman Sinead Phipps said last night.

Ford says this is the closest it has worked with Holden on such a critical issue. "Weve worked together on smaller projects, but I'm not aware we've done anything like this before," Ms Phipps said. "It was in both our interests to find a resolution."

Holden gets most Autodom parts from it's Woodville facility in Adelaide, while Ford obtains most from facilities in Gisbon and Dandenong on the outskirts of Melbourne. However, it is likely that the various Autodom operations will be separated by the receivers and each sold as a going concern.

Meanwhile, Holden says it is too early to say how many people have expressed interest in the redundancy program it announced late last week. "We announced the program Friday and its a rostered day off today, so it's too early to gauge interest," Mr Cheetham said.

Holden factory workers at Elizabeth have two weeks to apply for 170 voluntary redundancies that will take effect before Christmas.