Global Glass Workers Alliance

Workers Uniting plays critical role in forming alliance

Representatives of the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union (GMP) of the United States and Canada, the Australian Workers Union (AWU), and Unite of the UK and Ireland, along with the global union federation IndustriALL, came together to discuss the continuing hard labour practices of Owens – Illinois (O-I) on the 22nd October 2012.

The representatives of the unions in North America 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.

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.

Unite and the USW are the partner unions in the global union Workers Uniting.

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