Friday, February 20, 2009

The negotiations over the final fate of the occupied Waterford Crystal factory continue unabated, with the union still trying to be "realistic" rather than creative. As in so many other things you can "realistically" drive to defeat in a crisis situation in the most "realistic" manner. See past Molly posts on this matter and on the Kherson factory occupation for my own view. Here, from the Waterford News and Star is an article from two days ago on the latest skivvy on the stalemate.

Union tight-lipped after Government meeting:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Union tight-lipped after Government meeting
By Marion O’Mara
A GLIMMER of good news loomed on the horizon this week for workers at Waterford Crystal, following what was described as “a positive engagement” between union leaders and Government officials over pensions.
Walter Cullen, Regional Organiser of UNITE, said that the discussions centred on the pension scheme. Due to the delicate nature of the talks, he declined to comment beyond describing them as positive.
A spokesperson for Deloitte Receiver, David Carson was also remaining tight-lipped yesterday amid widespread speculation that a deal had been concluded with KPS Capital Partnership for Waterford Crystal.
“No deal has been finalised and negotiations are ongoing,” he said.
Following a mass meeting at The Forum, in the city last Thursday, workers heard that KPS Capital Partnership had made a “goodwill” offer of €10m in compensation for the loss of severance and ex-gratia payments.
They also offered to lease the premises and continue small scale manufacturing, with approximately 80 jobs on the tourist trail and a further 80 jobs between the Visitor Gallery and office staff.
Following negotiations with the Receiver, the Government and the ICTU, Mr. Cullen said that they outlined to members the outcome of the talks. “We put forward a recommendation based on those negotiations and it was accepted.
Now we are waiting to hear from the Receiver,” he said. As he emerged from the tense two-hour meeting he said, “We need to devise a mechanism by which that €10m is going to be allocated in a fair and equitable way. There are conditions on that laid down by KPS and by the Receiver, which are issues that we need to address when we respond to both KPS and the Receiver, and we need clarification in relation to jobs.”

Asked about a possible bid from Clarion — the company which former Crystal Chief Executive, John Foley is involved, he said there had been no indication as to which bid would be accepted. He added that UNITE members were angry with the process they were in.
“Nobody was jumping up and down with excitement about the announcement of €10m. They are still also very unhappy with the Government – in particular with the response on the pension issue.
That still remains unresolved. “There are three elements we set out from the very start in terms of maximising the number of jobs, a manufacturing facility to produce Waterford Crystal in Waterford, compensation for the ex-gratia payments that were due to our members and resolution of the pension issue.”
Asked how much longer he thought they would get from the Receiver to resolve the process Mr. Cullen said that was a question for the Receiver. He had been indicating that he was under severe pressure to move the process forward — “as we are.”
He wanted whichever buyer was successful in the bid to engage with the union on maximising jobs and he also said that they wanted to look for alternative uses for the tank furnace if that was not part of KPS’ plans.
Mr. Cullen declined to comment on the conditions attached to the offer from KPS.
Believe it or not I actually get quite a few visits to this blog from the receiver mentioned in the above, and it doesn't seem to be connected to this one matter. i am hard pressed to understand what information they may be gathering. What i can say is that not just Deloitte and Touche, but most other receivers are a sector of the economy that has seen their business expand in the present economic crisis. I think it is about time to advance beyond Naoimi Klein's "disaster capitalism" and posit the term "vulture capitalism".

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