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Joint Statement – The AWU and O-I Glass Australia

April 6, 2020

The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and Australia’s largest manufacturer of glass bottles and jars, O-I Australia, are jointly calling on the government to recognise the critical importance of the glass container industry to the essential food and beverage supply chain.

In the event that federal or state governments move towards more severe lock-down measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the glass container industry should be classified as an essential service.

Between its four manufacturing plants, O-I Australia produces over 2.5 billion glass containers for hundreds of food and beverage companies every year, supplying the packaging for households essential goods such as milk, water, spreads, juice, olive oil, pasta and simmer sauces, and alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine.

Across its four plants, O-I directly employs over 1,000 Australians and indirectly provides jobs for thousands of people employed through its suppliers, third parties and those in the food and beverage industry.

Safely closing down and restarting a glass furnace can take months. In addition to being time-consuming, it requires a skeleton team to oversee the process as it cools down and then re-heats to the appropriate temperature.

O-I already mandates extremely high hygiene practices to protect all employees from routine work health and safety risks. These practices have been galvanized and expanded since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and include social distancing, vigilant hygiene practices and now, the introductions of temperature checking for those entering our sites.

The AWU and O-I Australia call on Australian governments to classify the glass container industry as ‘essential’ and allow the industry to remain operational.

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