Reduction in Aussie beer consumption leads to 70 glass factory job cuts

The changing preferences of Australian beverage consumers have led to 70 job cuts O-I Glass’ Melbourne factory.

O-I Australia will close a furnace at its factory in Spotswood in March.

The job cuts will occur by June and Australian Workers Union Victoria secretary Cesar Melhem said they will include 50 glass manufacturing workers, with trade and engineering employees making up the rest of the numbers.

Currently 320 people are employed at the factory, but with the Australians drinking less locally-made beer and instead choosing imported beer or cider, the need for glass has dropped leading to a 15 per cent decrease in production acoss the industry, a change that has been felt at the Spotswood factory.

Brian Slingsby, general manager O-I Glass said there is no question that the drop in alcohol was the cause of the job losses.

"The decision to reduce our Melbourne plant’s furnaces from three to two follows ongoing deterioration in market conditions in Australia and weak consumer sentiment," he said in a statement.

"This had led to declining food and beverage sales across the country, particularly in the beer and wine segments."

While Melhem said the AMU has been assured any redundancies will be voluntary in this case, there is now uncertainty about the longevity of other jobs at the plant.

"It now becomes a question: will the plant be viable long-term by having two furnaces?” he said.

“Not long ago they used to have five furnaces.

"Our members are a bit nervous about the future, and rightly so.

“We are looking at sitting down with the company to look at putting a plan in place to make sure we can secure the viability of the plant for the next five, 10, 20 years."

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