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Owens-Illinois to shut glass plant with 300 workers


September 9, 2008
By The Canadian Press

Sept. 9, 2008, Vancouver, B.C – Owens-Illinois Inc. is closing its glass container plant
in Lavington, B.C., cutting 300 jobs, the third Canadian plant closure
this year as the U.S. company streamlines operations.

Sept. 9, 2008, Vancouver, B.C – Owens-Illinois Inc. is closing its glass container plant
in Lavington, B.C., cutting 300 jobs, the third Canadian plant closure
this year as the U.S. company streamlines operations.

The
Ohio-based company had announced plans to shut down a Toronto plant
last month, throwing another 430 people out of work. The company also
closed a glass bottle factory in Scoudouc, N.B., in March, cutting more
than 200 jobs.

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Owens-Illinois said Friday the B.C. closure will
be effective Oct. 31, with existing production to be transferred to
other plants.

About 300 employees at the plant in the B.C.
interior, east of Vernon, will be affected, but the company said it
will help workers try to find new jobs.

Gene Wirch, business
representative for the Teamsters Union Local 213, said finding jobs for
the workers in Lavington won't be easy, especially in a community
already hard hit by forestry cutbacks.

"This is not a Toronto
community. This is a small community and it's going to have an impact
on the community itself," Wirch said.

"Trying to replace a lot of jobs in this type of community – it's not likely to happen."

He
said staff were surprised by the announcement, which came Friday
morning from Owens-Illinois representatives who travelled to the plant
from Los Angeles.

The latest cuts expand the company's Canadian workforce reductions to 930 this year.

Like
all domestic and foreign-owned manufacturers, Owens-Illinois has been
hit by rising energy and transportation costs and the impact of the
high Canadian dollar, which makes it tougher to compete in the key
American market.

As well, the shift away from glass containers to
plastic and other materials is also affecting the company, which has
become more profitable in the last year through an efficiency drive,
higher prices, improved product mix and lower interest costs.

"This
closing was driven by our ongoing global asset utilization process
which identified the opportunity to shift our production to other O-I
North American facilities, resulting in lower energy consumption and
production costs while still meeting current and anticipated market
needs," said Scott Murchison, president of the 24,000-employee
company's North America glass container division.

In July, the
company partly blamed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario for the
Toronto closure, effective Sept. 30 – a charge the LCBO flatly rejected.

Owens-Illinois
said the high Canadian dollar, soaring energy prices and what a company
spokeswoman described as an "anti-glass" container policy at the
province's liquor control agency were all factors in the decision.

The
New Brunswick plant, formerly known as Consumer's Glass, made bottles
for markets all over eastern North America, using mostly recycled
glass. Owens-Illinois said at the time it had tried to secure enough
business to support the Scoudouc plant but couldn't.

Owens-Illinois
has 82 manufacturing plants in 22 countries, including 24 in North
America. In 2007, its net sales were US$7.6 billion.

In its
second quarter financial report released last month, Owens-Illinois
said its second quarter profits from continuing operations rose to
US$227.5 million from $153.8 million last year, while sales increased
11 per cent to $2.2 billion from just under $2 billion.


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