“General Motors acted with the ethics of a … purse snatcher”, were just some of the choice words used by Queensland Senator James McGrath as he addressed federal parliament, reiterating his stand on the sudden announcement of GM regarding the end of Holden's production and closing of 203 showrooms operated by 185 dealers in Australia.
The senator has accused General Motors of taking advantage of the global health pandemic to delay compensation negotiations with Holden dealers, all of which will be gone by the end of the year. GM's official announcement was made in February this year, but a few months later, and there appears to be no fair consensus as McGrath goes on by saying: “And nothing I have heard from Holden dealers throughout Australia since then has changed my view or that of my colleagues in this parliament”.
McGrath didn't spare Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, saying that she has a pay package in tens of millions of dollars, but is sending Australian families to the wall. He goes on by saying that GM, under her guidance, has been using the coronavirus as a convenient alibi, "putting the screws" to Holden franchisees, requiring tight timelines, unfair agreements as part of settlements, and to stretch the payments.
Referring to GM's presence in Australia since the early 1930s, McGrath said: “To put it bluntly, General Motors (is) trying to sneak under the cover of COVID-19 to disappear into the night and leave Australian businesses stranded after an 89-year one-night stand”.
“General Motors may think the rich history of the Holden brand is worthless, but I think it’s priceless. If General Motors (thinks) the brand is worth nothing then hand the brand back to Australia. Give it back to the Holden dealers. Indeed, I’m happy to purchase the Holden brand off General Motors for a dollar. I will send you Ms. Barra a dollar in the post and you can give us the Holden brand back and we will give it to the Holden dealers.”
GM has responded last week at these allegations, stating that these are “baseless”, “plainly wrong”, and “unsupported by fact or law”. The claims made by dealers are said to be based on an argument that GM secretly planned to shut down Holden since 2015, but made various investments and strategies to support and promote the brand, making dealers think there was no secret plan to do so.
With millions of Holden cars on the roads of Australia, GM has promised to retain a staff of 200 people to handle any support service, warranty claims, parts, and recalls for at least ten more years. McGrath added: “The decision by General Motors to discontinue Holden operations in Australia is their prerogative. But they must do so responsibly and in a manner that is fair to the very people that has enabled the company to operate in the Australian marketplace.”