The Australian economy has been reeling for decades, after years of systemic changes in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Now, it seems the situation will take another turn for the worse. According to General Motors, almost three hundred positions will be made redundant at Holden’s Elizabeth plant. The announcement has shocked locals, who were not expecting the collapse of their primary employer.

Though the plant will remain open, its output will be revised and significantly downgraded. Speaking to the media, General Motors’ director of communications, Sean Poppitt, said the redundancies were a last resort.

“This move better aligns production with demand and supports our plan of continuing to build world-class cars in Adelaide until the end of 2017,” he explained.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has maintained its opposition to endemic cut-backs, but says it was not surprised by the developments. Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union federal secretary Dave Smith said that while the redundancies were disappointing, they came as no surprise.

“Most people have sort of come to grips with it,” Dave Smith, federal secretary of the AMWU, told the ABC. “They understand that between now and 2017 there was always going to be a re-rate (reduction) at some stage or another.”

Mr. Poppitt discussed the future of the region and the importance of not severing ties with the local community.

“We acknowledge the human factor first and foremost,” he told the ABC. “All of our people have counselling services available to them, as well as career counselling, training and job-search assistance. Everyone has access to that before and after this process. We also have our early release program.”

But on a negative note, Mr. Poppitt said the current spate of redundancies would be a harbinger of things to come.

“We have to react to the market as required,” he explained. “We can’t talk about any specific dates, but as mentioned before, obviously the scaling down of production will continue to occur on a sliding scale.”

It’s more bad news for regional Australia, where jobs such as these can make or break local lives. But it’s also bad news for the Australian economy as a whole, revealing a growing gap between time-honoured industries and their potential to employ the many workers of Australia.


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