News and Views

General Motors must negotiate and compensate in good faith for the long term

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Over the past 48 hours 8,300+ employees including 555 apprentices at 185 franchised General Motors Holden dealerships nationwide have been digesting the General Motors Holden GMH Detroit decision to cease production of right-hand cars and vacate the Australian and New Zealand new car market.

Many communities across Australia are also considering the implications and impact of a decision made half a world away – especially in regional and rural Australia where the dealers are prominent local businesses, a major employer and an important part of their respective communities through sponsorship, assistance and social welfare initiatives.

The Motor Traders’ Association of NSW (MTA NSW), an Employers Association representing thousands of automotive businesses in NSW, is supporting the work done by our national body, the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA), and State and Territory Members in reaching out to their Holden dealer constituents to gauge needs, concerns and impacts.

MTAA has discussed the decision and implications with the office of Industry Minister Karen Andrews and will make further representations at a preplanned automotive industry roundtable scheduled to discuss long awaited franchising reforms. MTAA will, as part of its decade plus pursuit of these reforms, continue to impress the need for car manufacturer franchisors to be held to account for product warranty as key to addressing imbalance in manufacturer dealer relationships.

All MTAA member CEO’s will have further discussions with the Industry Minister and with Jobs Employment and Small Business Minister Senator, Michaelia Cash based on feedback and issues raised by dealer constituents.

MTAA has already stressed this is not just any unfortunate market change, but the market withdrawal of a vehicle manufacturer with over 9% of the 19 million strong national light and commercial vehicle fleet that requires considerable oversight and monitoring by government regulators, authorities and service providers.

“MTAA and MTA NSW recognise the announcement by GMH that fair compensation packages will be provided and understands that dealers will be confidentially informed of what this means today. The Association’s call on General Motors to negotiate in good faith on a dealer by dealer basis and properly and fully consider differing circumstances, investments and a range of other issues peculiar to each business. Both MTAA and MTA NSW expects GMH to demonstrate ownership of their difficult decision in determining with the dealers, a proper and fair outcome and cautions General Motors that a definition of fair and reasonable worked out by Board in Detroit, may be far removed from an Australian community and dealer expectation of fair and reasonable”, MTA NSW CEO, Stavros Yallouridis said.

MTA NSW notes that GMH has committed to support over 1.7million Holden owners for at least the next 10 years. This must include fair treatment, respect and an absolute commitment to properly meet warranty obligations for consumers and businesses to continue to service and repair GMH vehicles.

“This is vitally important as consumers should have confidence in buying a GMH vehicle and be assured of ongoing warranty service and repair by dealers committed to meeting their customers’ requirements as they have in many cases done for several generations,” said Stavros.

Our national body, MTAA does not want General Motors to replicate the unfortunate behaviour of some other manufacturers who appear to obfuscate responsibilities and obligations required under Australian Consumer Law and inappropriately leave it to the dealer to satisfy warranty demands, consumer concerns or complaints. MTAA has brought several examples of this behaviour to the attention of regulators and implore General Motors to set the standard for ongoing consumer care and support for businesses that continue to service and repair vehicles well into the future.

“MTA NSW remains ready to provide any assistance and representation to dealer members including industrial and employee relations advice and services,” Stavros said.

Source: Motor Traders’ Association of NSW

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