Waterford Occupation 6th Week

Waterford Crystal workers call on Government to intervene

Workers at Waterford Crystal are continuing their occupation, now in their sixth week

By Donal Mac Fhearraigh

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Workers at Waterford Crystal are continuing their occupation, now in their sixth week. Tom Hogan, a retired Waterford Crystal worker, spoke to Socialist Worker, “The occupation is still lively with over 40 people turning up every day. Representative from the occupation are traveling throughout Ireland and Britain to speak about the occupation and how people can support us”.

“KPS, a US vulture capitalist firm, has bought the brand but it is still unclear how many jobs will be saved. The 10 million offered in compensation to the workers is completely inadequate. The 480 sacked workers are now living on the basic social welfare payment, the compensation offered will only last four or five weeks. Many families are now wondering how they will pay their mortgages, as statutory redundancy will not be processed for another 12 weeks. Workers are pushing that the 10 million be seen as a down payment for more compensation”.

“The new owner’s plan is that the manufacturing be done by a separate company. We are calling on the government to step in and take the manufacturing into public ownership. Over 300,000 people visited Waterford last year because of Waterford Crystal”.

“The receiver has been told not to go too far in any agreement until a full deal is worked out. The government has been informed in a written submission and it, along with ICTU, has been asked to organize a meeting of the national implementation body to get all parties into the same room”.

“The government has been dragging its feet on the pension issue. The bosses are doing everything to avoid responsibility for pensions. There is a strong possibility that the union may have to take legal action to get a pension bond established, where a scheme similar to the UK that guarantees 90% of a workers pension is establish. The workers are clear that all these issues have to be resolved together, there can be no splitting up the issues”.

“We are also pushing that the union hold another mass meeting so all workers are informed of where the negotiations are at and to keep everyone together and on board for an agreed strategy”.

The resistance by the Waterford Crystal workers is an inspiration to other workers facing cuts and job losses. On the 20th February workers at Element Six, previously DeBeers, in Shannon held a sit in to protest management plans to sack 150 workers out of a workforce of 620.

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