With a near-60 percent increase in Waterford’s jobless figures in the year to December, local Labour TD Brian O’Shea TD has called for a united, apolitical approach in response to the unemployment crisis affecting the city and county.

He says it’s now more important than ever that a special Director of Employment be appointed for Waterford and the southeast region. As of last month 10,491 people were signing on the Live Register in Waterford – up 58 percent on the equivalent figure (6,625) 12 months previously

The annual increases unemployment in Dungarvan and Waterford city ran at similar levels – from 992 to 1,569 and 5,633 to 8,922 respectively. The increase of 705 in the overall figure from November to December last (9,786 to 10,491) represents 7.2 percent of the monthly total.

With “no indication that this sharp downward trend in the number of people in work will not continue as the recession deepens,” the Tramore TD says, “in fact, everything points to even worse figures to come.”

At this stage “there is no point in indulging in pointless recrimination and blame… Instead, we must concentrate on creating a united campaign to preserve employment and enterprise in Waterford city and county and where possible, to bring in new jobs, one at a time if necessary.

“It does not matter whether these jobs are in the public service on in private enterprise. At present, every single job is important and no reasonable opportunity to create new employment must be overlooked… we cannot adopt a fatalistic attitude and not fight back.”

But, “in order to do this, we must have the support of all the State agencies and a united, committed and focused campaign at constituency level in order to weather this recession as best we can and make any gains possible during a period of unprecedented challenges,” he said.

Naval gazing

Meanwhile, speaking at the annual Pickardstown Commemoration in Tramore, Waterford Sinn Féin Councillor David Cullinane again repeated his call for the urgent framing of a national job creation strategy which would involve major public infrastructural investment.

“At a time when every member of the Government should be on their toes, running around busily trying to come up with a plan to take us out of the current crisis, the image coming from the Government is that are sitting back in their chairs wishing the problems away and naval gazing.

“Now is a time for real leadership. Waterford City is facing one of the biggest crises in its recent history with the potential loss of crystal-making in the area. Hundreds of jobs may be lost with uncertainty in pensions for thousands more.

“The Government must intervene immediately, enter into real negotiations with the receiver of the company and fight for the retention of Waterford jobs and protection of Waterford pensions. The Government must also spell put how new jobs will be created in the city and county.”