GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR HOLDEN WORKERS IN SA

23-02-2016

Is Guido Dumarey the answer to Holden workers’ prayers or is he driving them up a dead end street?

Mr Dumarey, of course is the Belgian entrepreneur interested in taking over Holden's Elizabeth plant in Adelaide’s north, which is facing imminent closure.

The Belgian businessman has met with representatives from the state and federal governments assuring them his bid is genuine.

And Mr Dumarey’s credentials are sound.

The 56-year-old Belgian is head of the Dumarey family, which owns Punch Group, a collection of businesses and investments in Europe.

In 2012, he successfully took over a General Motors transmission plant in France that was earmarked for closure.

Holden plans to end Australian manufacturing next year, with about 1600 workers at the Elizabeth plant set to lose their jobs.

But the Belgian white knight has unveiled an ambitious plan to save them.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill has rightly warned workers employed at the plant against false hope.

In a radio interview Mr Weatherill said he was still “lukewarm” on the idea, but his government is treating the proposal seriously.

As part of the deal Mr Dumarey wants access to the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies that have now been shut off by the federal government.

He also needs the support of General Motors and would have to address the remediation of one of the most contaminated sites in the state.

So there are many major hurdles still to jump before it's a done deal.

But both the SA and Federal Governments have indicated they will help where possible to get the proposal off the ground.

Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, is pushing hard for the Holden plant to stay open in his home state.

And SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall, who also met Mr Dumeray, is convinced it's a credible offer.

Mr Marshall says the SA Government should be “grabbing it with both hands."

However Mr Weatherill is taking a more cautious approach.

There are a lot of boxes to tick before the plan becomes a reality, he says.

The Australian car industry may have been given the last rites, but many auto workers are now starting to believe there may be life after death.

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