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Wage Deal Assures Continued Production at Australian GM Holden Plant

The recent drop of the yen has compounded this pressure by making Japanese cars more competitive in Australia.

NEW YORK - General Motors (IW 500/5) on Friday pledged to keep open its GM-Holden auto manufacturing and assembly plant near Adelaide, Australia, after workers agreed to a wage freeze.

The wage freeze and other cost-saving measures agreed with union and employee representatives are expected to save the Elizabeth plant approximately $15 million per year once they go into effect, said a statement from Holden, GM's Australian unit.

"These labor-related cost savings and productivity improvements are crucial to putting our Elizabeth manufacturing facility on a path to global competitiveness," said Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux.

"There are some tough measures in this variation, but the unions and our people recognize this difficult situation and have responded in kind."

The Australian government earlier this month pledged an A$200 million (US$184 million) bailout package to auto manufacturers as the industry struggles in the face of a high Australian dollar that has hurt exports.

The recent drop of the yen has compounded this pressure by making Japanese cars more competitive in Australia.

The Holden statement said the company has "aggressively priced" its cars to compete against imports "which benefit from the high Australian dollar and the country's internationally low tariff levels."

Holden, which employs about 4,000 people in Australia, announced in April it was cutting 500 jobs following a downsizing of 170 posts last year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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