26 October, 2012A group of IndustriALL-affiliated trade unions initiated the formation of a global network at US-based glass packaging manufacturer Owens Illinois (O-I).
The first meeting of the network was organized via teleconference on 22 October 2012. Representatives of the United Steelworkers (USW), Unite of the UK and Ireland, Glass Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union (GMP) of the United States and Canada; the Australian Workers Union (AWU) along with the IndustriALL Officer came together to discuss the continuing problematic labour practices of Owens – Illinois.
The representatives of the unions in the United States and Australia reported that there was an increasingly worrying issue of the use of agency workers in O-I workplaces, and the treatment of these workers by O-I, with many of these workers being paid only 60% of their equivalent in-house employees.
O-I globally is in a period of acute cost-cutting reportedly to the extreme of $120 million dollars over the next year, and is attempting to achieve this by plant closures, attacking workers’ rights, the use of agency workers and lay-offs. Australia’s O-I workforce has been cut by 10% in the past year.
In Colombia and Indonesia, O-I has been increasing precarious workers and outsourcing production, aimed at weakening current union strength. Precarious workers are being paid 30-60 per cent less than permanent workers.
The unions expressed concern that the pressure for the company to increase its short term numbers will cause it more financial difficulty into the future and seriously challenge its place as an industry leader in glass manufacturing.
The unions involved have agreed to develop a closer working relationship in O-I leading to a Glass Workers Alliance.
USW has recently outreached to unions representing O-I workers in Brazil and Colombia, and IndustriALL has outreached to these unions in Asia. Unite will liaise on European Works Council membership and discuss with IndustriALL the setting up of a more formal structure to discuss issues related to the glass sector.
O-I is the world's largest glass container manufacturer and preferred partner for many of the world's leading food and beverage brands. With revenues of $7.4 billion in 2011, the Company is headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio, USA, and employs more than 24,000 people at 81 plants in 21 countries (USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Hungary, Czech, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, .Indonesia, China, Colombia, Brazil) (www.o-i.com).