Management and union negotiations regarding 492 redundancies sought by Waterford Crystal proceeded to a Labour Relations Commission hearing yesterday (Thursday), but stalemate resulted and instead of continuing today the LRC deferred its involvement until February 13 when it will resume talks with both sides.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting the company had issued 70 temporary workers with a week’s notice of termination of their contracts. Legally those workers, mainly general and semi-skilled, would not be entitled to redundancy payments as they have been less then two years employed, but the UNITE union sought a financial settlement for them at the LRC hearing.

It is understood management has agreed to abide by whatever decision is reached in that regard but the union is also insisting the workers concerned form part of the 492 which the company says must go.

It was on November 21 that management announced plans to cut by about half its remaining workforce at Kilbarry and at the same time to outsource 40 p.c. of production. Since then talks have been ongoing between the company and the union. The LRC has now taken up the challenge of attempting to find a settlement acceptable to both sides.

The union has been arguing that the rationalisation plan is neither credible, comprehensive nor viable and it claims that in the course of a series of meetings management has failed to address issues about which it has major concerns. Hence the involvement of the LRC, but judging by yesterday’s lack of progress the gap between the parties remains yawning.

Chief union negotiator Walter Cullen declined to comment beyond confirming that the negotiations were continuing.