Waterford Crystal workers to end sit-in after deal accepted

Sun, Mar 22, 2009, 00:00

Workers at Waterford Crystal have voted to end an eight-week sit-in at the company’s premises in Kilbarry and to accept an agreement with the new owners that will save 176 jobs.

Members of the Unite trade union at the company began their sit-in at the plant’s visitors’ centre on January 30th, sparked by the receiver’s decision to shut down manufacturing there after he ran out of cash.

Today, workers voted to accept an agreement negotiated in recent weeks Unite, new owners KPS, and the receiver.

“Within the next six to eight weeks a consortium of Waterford business leaders, headed by Nicky Fewer, will engage with representatives of the work force to complete preparatory work on their proposal to secure a manufacturing presence at Kilbarry,” a statement on behalf of the workers said.

“It is hoped this proposal will result in the retention of manufacturing of Waterford Crystal in Waterford the home of the world renowned brand.”

Union shop stewards today recommended to workers the endorsement of the deal reached following talks chaired by Kevin Foley, director of conciliation at the Labour Relations Commission.

They also recommending that all Unite and TEEU union members currently and formerly

employed in Waterford Crystal who are involved in this process be included in the allocation of a €10 million fund if this recommendation is accepted.

Unite said its representatives on the new taskforce would seek to deliver the production of Waterford Crystal made in Waterford in the last Quarter of 2009.

The sit in at Kilbarry which began on January 30th after the closure of the plant by receiver David Carson will now be ended “over the next 24 hours”.

There is as yet no resolution to the issue of the Waterford Crystal pension, the statement said.

“Proposals will now be considered for action to be taken by Unite and the Ictu against the Irish government over its non-compliance with European legislation on pension protection,” the statement said.

Unite regional organiser Walter Cullen said the workers of Waterford Crystal had been “abandoned” by the Government.

“The failure to nationalise the company and prevent a private equity company from plundering the brand and taking it out of Ireland is a national disgrace.”

“Equally the Irish Government’s failure to implement the EU insolvency directive has resulted in our members losing over two-thirds of the pension benefit which they have contributed to all their working lives.

“We do not intend to allow this to happen. While agreement has been reached with KPS and the Receiver the fight to protect our members' pensions will continue until we get justice for our members.”

Mr Cullen said the workers wished to express their “sincere appreciation” to all those who supported them during the crisis, especially the people of Waterford.

“The support from the trade union movement around the world has been tremendous. The Waterford brand name should be in ownership here in Ireland either by the Irish Government on behalf of the people of Ireland through nationalisation or by the people of Waterford through a municipal bid for the brand name.”