Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Earlier today 6,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Waterford in Ireland in support of the workers occupying the Waterford Crystal factory. the following, from the Irish Times, tells the story. There is also now a Facebook group devoted to saving Waterford. You can access it at . In a few days of existence it has gathered 4,035 members the last that Molly looked.
Union leader at Waterford believes plant can be saved:
BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent, in Waterford
UNION LEADERS representing workers at Waterford Crystal last night remained confident that a deal can be done to save the plant and secure pension entitlements for former workers as over 6,000 marched through Waterford in support of the workforce.

Unite regional industrial organiser Walter Cullen told The Irish Times that the union was still confident that the Clarion Capital group would be successful in its bid for the plant, in the process securing more than 300 jobs at the plant, including some 200 in manufacturing.

It is understood that Clarion Capital, which includes former Waterford Crystal chief executive John Foley is carrying out due diligence on the company having lodged a bid with the receiver, David Carson of Deloitte and Touche last Saturday.

Mr Cullen said that he remained confident the Government would still intervene to provide a pension protection plan for former workers, despite the collapse of the pay talks between Government and the social partners on Tuesday. He said that the union had put proposals to the Government prior to the collapse of the talks which would involve the Government underwriting the workers’ pensions, but which would not cost hundreds of millions.

While Unite had received advice that it could bring legal action against the Government over its failure to implement an EU directive on pension protection, he said the union remained hopeful that the proposals put to the Government would be accepted, thus avoiding the need for legal action.

Mr Cullen was speaking after some 6,000 people marched in support of the Waterford Crystal workers who are continuing to occupy the plant after Mr Carson announced that he was closing the factory last Friday and made workers redundant.

Workers made redundant on Friday were joined by former employees and workers from other companies around Waterford, as well as people from all over the city.

The march began at the AIB Bank on Paddy Browne’s Road and was led by former Waterford Crystal employees and pipers Terry McAuliffe and Tony Wallace who were joined by the Barrack Street Band who played a series of stirring airs as thousands walked behind the array of banners.

Among those represented at the march were Unite, which represents over 90 per cent of workers at Waterford Glass, Waterford Council of Trade Unions, Dublin Council of Trades Unions, Siptu members from Iarnród Éireann in Waterford and TUI members at Waterford Institute of Technology.The workers and their supporters made their way to the car park at the visitor centre in Kilbarry where the rally was addressed by a series of speakers including the Mayor of Waterford councillor Jack Walsh who warned that the closure of the factory would be disastrous for the city.

Messages of solidarity were read from the former general secretary of the TUC in the UK, Jack Jones, and Liverpool dockers, while thanks were also expressed on behalf of the occupying workers to the Waterford people who had provided supplies.
It is rather disappointing that there doesn't seem to be a "Plan B" on the part of the union should Clarion Capital not turn out to be the white knight. being as the government is already being pressured to underwrite the pension plan for the employees of the plant it doesn't take a far stretch of the imagination that they could also be pressured to act as guaranteers for a producers' cooperative if Plan A fails to materialize.

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