Melbourne workers crack it, picket OI Glass office

Nicholas McCallum

Workers have not received a real pay rise in 7 years. 

ETU Victoria and AMWU Victoria members at OI Glass are currently in a dispute with management about their EBA negotiations. The members haven’t had a pay increase in real terms in seven years, and the company is refusing to negotiate fairer working conditions.

OI Glass is a glass container manufacturer which has a 90% market share in Australia. This means that nearly every single glass jar and bottle people use, whether it is Vegemite, beer, wine or soft drink, is manufactured by OI Glass. They have nearly no competition in Australia.

It’s because of this near monopoly that OI Glass has made $2.62 billion in revenue in Australia between 2013-17. Despite this, they paid nothing in income tax in the same period. While their CEO earns an $11 million compensation package a year – plus 50 hours of private jet usage – the people whose hard work produces their revenue are being stopped from receiving a pay rise.

READ MORE: Queensland unions and community send company a message, loud and clear

The dispute with OI Glass has now been going since April. The members started with an indefinite ban on overtime and communication with contractors, and from the end of April they began a 24 hours on/24 hours off strike action for three months. During this time they also had various other work stoppages. 

For the last few weeks, the members at OI Glass have put in various workplace bans, and have therefore been getting deducted up to 55% of their wages despite still working eight-hour days. The company has retaliated by threatening to lock them out of the workplace and terminate their agreement. 

The safety team have done an audit of the workplace and found there was no emergency lighting in the plant, which has resulted in the company needing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars rectifying the issue.

On July 25, members at OI Glass had a rally outside the head office in Melbourne’s CBD, calling attention to their tax dodging and their mistreatment of workers. Members are simply asking for fair working conditions, and a pay rise that keeps up with the cost of living. 

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