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Strike begins at Owens Illinois glass plant in Quebec

May 11, 2023

MONTREAL – Hit with raging inflation and refusing to lose ground on their purchasing power, 330 workers at the Owens Illinois glass plant in Montreal began a general strike at 10:30 a.m. today.

“We’re seeing our purchasing power decline before our very eyes and we’re saying ‘no’ to falling further behind,” said Eric Dumas, president of Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW) Local 206G, which represents the Owens Illinois strikers.

“We refuse to lose ground once again, while our families suffer from the rising cost of groceries, housing and mortgages. We’re saying ‘no’ this time and we’re putting our foot down,” Dumas said.

The Owens Illinois workers voted by a 97% majority last week to give their bargaining committee a strike mandate. Negotiations resumed last Monday, only to reach an impasse today.

“Our union’s members have decided to use the ultimate means at their disposal to gain respect. They are seeing, once again, that their employer does not recognize the value of their contributions,” said union representative Steve Galibois.

“In several previous rounds of contract negotiations, this employer gave as little as possible, resulting in a gradual decrease in working conditions over the years. So our members are saying, ‘enough is enough!’ They’re demanding respect,” Galibois said.

Picket lines have been set up in front of the Owens Illinois facility in Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood and at the company’s warehouse in nearby Lasalle. Picketing will continue around the clock. The Pointe-Saint-Charles plant is the only glass factory in Quebec that manufactures dark beer bottles and other glass containers.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all economic sectors.

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