Waterford County Council this week pledged support for the beleaguered Waterford Crystal workers in their on-going battle with the Receiver who has been put into the world famous company.

Sinn Fein’s Brendan Mansfield said crystal workers were treated badly and some of them were fighting to get their pensions and redundancy entitlements.

County Mayor Cllr Tom Higgins (FG) said the Waterford workers were in a ‘very bad place’. Investors were only interested in buying the Waterford brand name and the workers were in a terrible dilemma, he said.

Labour’s Cllr Billy Kyne said the Waterford Crystal situation was a reflection of what had happened in Ireland in the last 10 years when the ‘eye’ was taken off manufacturing and there was significant engagement in speculation and construction. The country was now reaping the consequences of that whirlwind and thousands of jobs were being lost. It was now essential to rejuvenate employment in industrial and manufacturing.

Cllr Ger Barron (Lab) said he supported the Waterford workers and took part in their demonstration and complimented them on the way they handled their situation with dignity and courage. The crisis in Waterford affected the entire South East and if the Visitor Centre closed it would hit the tourist industry, he warned.

Cllr Pat Daly (FF) said the Crystal Visitor Centre was a ready made tourist industry on Waterford’s doorstep and it had a big spin off right across the region. He wished the workers well and hoped they would get their entitlements and their pensions.

A time of need

Cllr Lola O’Sullivan (FG) said a lot of Waterford workers lived in the county and were part of the community. In good times they supported every cause and they should not be forgotten in their time of need.

Cllr Kyne said workers in the public sector now faced a significant cut in wages just because they had permanent jobs. This caused a lot of anxiety for many people who had taken out big mortgages in recent inflationary times.

There was a need for permanent workers and there was ‘no sin’ in that but now they faced a cut of €60 a week, and more, in wages. This debate was trying to split the public sector and private sector workers.

A good public sector was needed and they were as valuable as the private sector whether they were Gardai, nurses or council workers. Public sector workers should be respected and the Council should work with them to combat massive abuse by the banks and speculators.

The latest attack on the public sector was not good for stability or morale. People with high mortgages did not quality for higher education grants and they were now facing wages cuts. The Unions would respond to this situation, said Cllr Kyne.

Referring to the threatened closure of St. Bridget’s Ward in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Waterford, Cllr Brendan Coffey (FG) said it was a high dependence hospital and a critical piece of infrastructure. He called on Fianna Fail to put pressure on the relevant people to ensure the ward remained open new facilities were put in place.