THE Baillieu government says it has joined an action at Fair Work Australia in a bid to end an industrial dispute in Dandenong South that risks grinding production lines at Holden and Ford to a halt next week.
The government says the dispute could lead to 4000 Victorian auto workers being stood down.
Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has also intervened in the dispute, helping convene a conciliation meeting between all parties at Fair Work on Sunday.
Since Wednesday, a picket line and lawful strike have hampered production at DAIR Industries, which supplies parts vital to Ford, Holden, Toyota and truck maker Kenworth.
DAIR makes rear bumper assemblies, foot brakes, clutch mechanisms, hood hinges and parking brakes, and employs about 200 people.
For the last three days, striking staff have allowed some workers to cross the picket line, meaning limited production has gone ahead.
DAIR Industries general manager of operations Kevin Boyle said the company had applied to the industrial umpire to end the dispute, because of the economic damage it could potentially do to the state.
"If we continue, this action it will have a significant effect on the economy," Mr Boyle said.
The dispute is largely centred around redundancy benefits at the plant. Mr Boyle said that the strike had not yet affected car production lines.
"But I would expect significant impact by Tuesday," he said.
Victorian Industrial Relations Minister Richard Dalla-Riva said this afternoon that the state government would support an application to Fair Work Australia by DAIR Industries to end the dispute.
"The ripple effect of shutting down supply of parts to other companies across the supply chain will be disruptive in the extreme," Mr Dalla-Riva said.
Workers are the plant are represented by the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
Mr Dalla-Riva said federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten — a former national secretary of the AWU — should end the dispute.
"Mr Shorten may be a former union chief at the AWU, but his responsibility is to the Australian people, not to his former union. Mr Shorten cannot just sit on his hands. He has the power available to him to order the termination of this dispute," he said.
A spokesman for Mr Shorten said the minister had spoken to all parties yesterday, and they had agreed to conciliation on Sunday with Commissioner Wayne Blair.
Mr Shorten was confident there was sufficient goodwill among all parties to reach a resolution, his spokesman said.
"The Victorian government, rather than rushing out press releases, should instead be focusing on reaching outcomes," he said. "This is not the time for political grandstanding."
The AWU's state secretary Cesar Melhem described Mr Dalla-Riva's decision to join with DAIR Industries as "pointless and contributing nothing to the resolution of the dispute".
Mr Melhem said Mr Dalla-Riva's sudden burst of interest in his manufacturing portfolio smacked of political opportunism.
"He's been minister in hiding through successive challenges to the manufacturing sector, but suddenly he appears out of nowhere to give unions a kicking, and sink the boot into the federal government for good measure,” Mr Melhem said.
AMWU Victorian assistant secretary Leigh Diehm also said Sunday's meeting was a step in the right direction.
"It is massively disappointing to see Minister Dalla-Riva going out of his way to make trouble, when he should be concentrating on looking for a solution," he said.