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Australian glass workers strike for a fair contract

20 September, 2019 Members of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) and Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) as part of CEPU (Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union) are on strike over three months at the Brisbane and Melbourne sites of the US-based glass maker Owens-Ilinois (O-I) for a fair contract.

Workers at O-I Austalia did not receive any pay increase over the last seven years although the company has made record sales and profits during the same period. When the Australian unions approached the company management with an attempt to bargain a new contract in late 2018, they faced with a bad-faith and aggressive bargaining behavior as the company used tactics for stalling the process.

The last contract expired in February 2019. The bargaining demands from workers for the new three-year contract include retaining the existing conditions of employment, a reasonable three per cent annual pay increase and introducing minor technical amendments over the provisions with a view to bring it up to acceptable standards.

Although workers’ demands are reasonable with any controversy, O-I’s Australia management turns deaf ear to their employees and so far refuses to negotiate fairer working conditions.

O-I controls almost nighty per cent of the market share in Australia and registered a revenue of 2.62 AUD billion (US$ 1.78 billion) in the period of 2013-2017. It is reported that the company’s CEO receives an annual 11 AUD million (US$ 7.5 million) compensation package.

According to the unions, during the strike actions, their members at O-I operations were imposed various workplace bans. Workers’ wages have been deducted up to fifty-five per cent despite continued eight-hour working days. Moreover, in retaliation, the company is threatening to lock them out with the termination of the agreement.

Workers continue their fight, and regularly organize weekly pickets and other actions.

To support the striking O-I Glass workers follow two links below: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-the-striking-etu-members-at-oi-glass and https://www.amwu.org.au/vic_oi_glass

Based in Perrysburg, Ohio, USA, Owens-Illinois Inc. (O-I) is one of the world's leading manufacturers of packaging products, holding the position of largest manufacturer of glass containers in North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. O-I directly employees 26,500 workers worldwide with 77 production facilities in 23 countries.