Unions and community send company a message, loud and clear

Nicholas McCallum

Oi! OI Glass! Stop smashing our conditions! 

When fourteen ETU Members at OI Glass’ South Brisbane resolved to take protected Industrial action in pursuit of a fair EBA which provides a fair pay increase while also locking in and protecting hard won custom and practice conditions, they wouldn’t have expected the great cross-Union and community support for their campaign.

But that is exactly what they got. In the first week alone, they had support and encouragement from their AMWU comrades on site, National Union of Workers, Queensland Council of Unions, United Firefighters, United Voice, Media Entertainment Arts Alliance, Professionals Australia and the Plumbers Union.

They also received messages of support from E tu NZ, Queensland Nurses and Midwives, Queensland Council of Unions Townsville and the ACTU. The support from community members was also massive, the toots were deafening at times and the waves and thumbs up showed a great deal of community support.

We also had ALP branch members, supporters from Vintage Reds, International Workers of the World, IPAN and Queensland Community Alliance reps and supporters show their backing for the picket which was present every week day from 6.30am to mid-afternoon.

READ MORE: Melbourne workers crack it, picket OI Glass office

A community BBQ held on July 18 attracted close to 100 workers and supporters to the company’s South Brisbane factory. 

So, what’s it all about?

According to 32-year veteran at the plant and ETU Delegate Ronnie, it’s about securing hard won conditions, improving safety and getting a reasonable pay increase.

“We are not asking for much, in a nut shell we are seeking to lock in what we already have in the way of conditions into the agreement," he said. 

"We also seek for safety reasons to have an extra electrical services to assist on each of the two back shifts which currently only have one. The pay increase while important isn’t the main game here.”

Troy, another ETU delegate on site, paid tribute to the support received from other Unions and the community.

“It’s been great we have been stunned by the level of support, I think people get it, they don’t support companies attempting to strip away hard-won conditions. This place has been going for 101 years and over that time workers have fought for the conditions we enjoy today – the company don’t have the right to take them away and we don’t have the right to give them away.”

Organiser Garry Rogers praised the way the delegates and members went about their business on the picket line.

“Look we have 14 Members on site and on any given day we have had at least 12 of them on the picket, they were the first to take the strong action and they are not backing down," he said. 

"The company have tried almost every trick in the book to undermine the workers resolve, threats to put them back on the Award, they walked away from negotiations and then they have put out a substandard non – endorsed Agreement which was smashed with a 100% No vote with a 97% turnout.

"What the members want is for OI to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith to address the issues around locking in conditions, addressing the safety concerns and providing a decent pay increase.”

Devitt Kennedy Lead Organiser from the Queensland Community Alliance was a regular on the picket line sending a strong message of support to striking Members.

“I’m here because so many workplaces are facing the same or similar issues, we as a community group stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the ETU and the AMWU in their fight to enhance safety and protect hard-won rights and conditions.”


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