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CAR giant Holden and unions are negotiating to avert the threat of random strikes at the car maker's Elizabeth and Port Melbourne plants A notice of industrial action - served on the car maker by its 7000 workers in SA and Victoria - takes effect from today.

Unless a new enterprise-bargain is reached, workers can take industrial action - including stopworks and overtime bans.

Workers want increases of 24 per cent over the next three years and redundancy packages of three weeks' pay and $1000 for each year of service.

A meeting which lasted until early yesterday reached agreement on flexible working arrangements. They were required by the company to match output with demand.

An agreement to set up a management-union committee to oversee the implementation of changes to work practices was taken to Holden's board of directors by negotiators. A fresh round of talks was proceeding last night to resolve the pay component of the deal.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary John Camillo said: " Ford has given its workers 15 per cent pay increases over the next three years.

"We believe Holden, which is more profitable, should be able to do better than that. We are well on the way towards reaching a new enterprise bargaining agreement, but the final negotiation on pay could be the difficult part. "

Mr Camillo said the union hoped to present a report to 80 shop stewards tomorrow.

Their decision would then dictate the formal recommendation to be presented to a mass meeting of workers.

A spokesman for Holden has rejected rumours the strike of NSW-based steering column components maker TriStar, which cost the company nine days' production , plus the failure to reach an early resolution to the workplace agreement, could prompt General Motors of the United States to rescind a decision to build a V6 engine plant in Australia.

Holden spokesman Amanda Webb said: "Building work on the engine plant at Port Melbourne is proceeding on schedule. There is no suggestion Australia could lose the plant. "

The TriStar strike cost Holden 5150 cars, worth $170 million, and Holden now is looking at options to recover some lost production.

Further industrial action would disrupt efforts to schedule in additional shifts at weekends plus overtime.

Holden has increased daily production to 580 cars.

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And I thought Holdens quality dramas were related to pushing the line too hard. Now they are uping it again. I don't think I would want to be waiting for one of these cars
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