FEDERAL government assistance given to Ford has been ineffective and failed to protect jobs, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says
Ford is axing 212 jobs at Victoria's Geelong and Broadmeadows plants due to a slump in large car sales and a production reduction.
Both plants were shut today as one-on-one meetings continued with employees to let them know who will be going home without a job.
Mr Abbott said everyone wanted a viable and efficient motor industry in Australia because it was a sign of a truly first-world economy.
"But I've got to say that the policy that the government has pursued does appear to have let a lot of people down,'' Mr Abbott told reporters outside Sydney.
The opposition leader said Prime Minister Julia Gillard said earlier this year the $34 million she was proposing to give Ford in industry assistance would create an additional 300 jobs.
"But sadly we seem to have yet another situation where the prime minister has been spending money but not getting the kind of result that the Australian people are entitled to expect,'' Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott said the coalition felt for the Ford workers who were facing an uncertain future.
"I hope that future government policy can be much more effective in lasting protection of jobs than the policy that the government's been following over the last few months.''
Earlier today a Ford assembly plant worker, who emerged from his own meeting in Broadmeadows having kept his job, said it had been an anxious wait and his thoughts were still with his colleagues.
"This is devastating,'' said the worker, who didn't want to be identified, as his co-workers were sacked.
"We're losing a lot of good people.
"We're here for moral support for our friends. We're like a family here.''
The worker criticised the company for keeping workers in limbo after the cuts were first announced in July.
"You couldn't plan for anything in the future because you didn't know if you had your job or not. You were basically left in limbo waiting, waiting, waiting, (thinking) am I safe?
"Now, unfortunately you find out in five minutes and your whole life is changed.''
He said Ford staff were respectful in the meeting but he was unhappy with the company apparently targeting assembly plant workers.
"It seems as if this process affected guys on the floor and no one in the office or head office.''
Ford announced in July it would axe 440 jobs at the two plants by November due to a slump in large car sales and a production reduction. But redeployment, in-house transfers and 118 voluntary redundancies mean 212 will be axed.
Those workers will be provided with employment support paid for by Ford.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesman Dave Smith says he is satisfied with how the car maker has handled the difficult process.
"They've given everyone interview times and they'll come in and they'll be told whether they have a job or not,'' the national secretary of the AMWU vehicle division said.
He said all levels of government should do more to support automotive jobs.