Volgren takeover takes fall for cost cuts

Almost 100 Volgren factory workers have gone on strike blaming a cultural change at the company for cost cuts

Volgren takeover takes fall for cost cuts
Volgren takeover takes fall for cuts
August 28, 2012

Volgren’s recent takeover is being used as a scapegoat for cost cuts, which
led to the strike of almost 100 Dandenong factory workers yesterday, according to Volgren management.

More than 90 workers at the Dandenoing bus manufacturing factory stopped work all day yesterday as part of a dispute over pay cuts, which include the removal of a $770 tools allowance and cutting annual wage rises from 3 percent to 2.75 percent.

Volgren Sales and marketing general manager Tony Kerr says the factory workers involved in the strike have blamed the cuts on a cultural change at the company since Brazilian-based bus manufacturer Marcopolo took over earlier this year.

But Kerr says the resource squeeze reflects tough market conditions and has nothing to do with the recent change in ownership.

"It couldn’t be further from the truth," Kerr says.

"There hasn’t been a change in anything. We have the same management team, the same strategy, the same people, the same processes, and the same chairman.

According to Kerr, the Australian market is sluggish, and the number of buses
imported to Australia continues to increase, with 40 percent now imported.

"Australian manufacturing is constantly under pressure with low labour cost countries," Kerr says.

"It is also worth noting that the market is down compared to the past few years."

Kerr says the company is simply managing its costs to keep the business sustainable.

"And in a tough and difficult year this isn’t the time to start putting a whole bunch of costs on the table," he says.

"We are hopeful that this will be resolved certainly sooner rather than later. Because we have a got fair and equitable deal on the table and that is what is important."

Volgren’s bus production at Tomago was put on ‘standby’ in July due to new bus orders in NSW being ‘all but dried up’.

Volgren attributed the closure to the NSW Government’s decision two months earlier to tender NSW private bus contracts over three years had stopped new bus purchases in the private sector.

Volgren was taken over from Grenda, which still owns a 25 per cent share in the company.

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