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Glass manufacturing  is absolutely essential to Australia’s economy

April 6, 2020

The Australian glass industry must be allowed to continue to play its vital role in powering the economy, says The Australian Workers’ Union, Oceania Glass and O-I Glass Australia.

The AWU, Oceania Glass and O-I Glass are calling for the industry to be classified as essential in recognition of the critical role it plays in supply chains across the country, including construction and the food and beverage industry.

They say manufacturing must not be halted in the event of more severe lock-down scenarios.

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU, said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of the Australian glass industry during this crisis. The Australian economy needs its manufacturing base firing on all cylinders to ensure infrastructure projects across the country can continue to operate. We have already run down our glass industry in this country – and what we do have, we must absolutely maintain.

“If you shutdown the Australia glass industry the knock-on effects would be felt across the economy. Global supply chains have already been disrupted and it’s more vital than ever than we maintain the manufacturing of Australian glass to meet the needs of households and industries across the nation.”

Between them O-I, which makes more 2.5 billion glass containers for hundreds of food and beverage companies every year, and Oceania Glass, which supplies float and architectural glass to all commercial and residential construction across Australia, employ more than a thousand staff and indirectly provide many thousands more through their suppliers, third parties, those in the food and beverage industry and the commercial and residential construction sector.

Mr Walton added: “The effects of any shutdown would also be long-lasting. Furnaces would need to be powered down with catastrophic results that would last for many months beyond the COVID-19 crisis and severely impact the nation’s recovery.”

Furnaces must be kept hot throughout their operating life and rely on 24/7 control from highly skilled operators. If forced to shutdown the furnace will suffer from thermal shock and fractures which would costs millions of dollars to repair and result in a plant outage of 12 months or more.

Oceania Glass and O-I Glass says the industry has already put in place expanded work and health safety measures since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic including social distancing, and vigilant hygiene practices.

The Australian glass industry has demonstrated it can continue to operate safely and it’s vital that governments recognise this commitment and the critical importance of the industry both now and once this crisis subsides.

Read the joint statement with Oceania Glass here. 

Read the joint statement with.O-I Glass Australia here.

At this critical time, it’s more vital than ever to be part of the union movement committed to saving jobs across the manufacturing sector. Join the AWU here.


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