The pensions of all existing Waterford Crystal employees could be under threat, pension experts have predicted, if the receiver appointed to Waterford Wedgwood fails to find a buyer for the company within the timeframe set down by its bankers, led by Bank of America.

If the company is not sold as a going concern, it is understood the receiver will be instructed to wind up production and pensions of the company’s 8,000 workers across the world could be under threat. This includes all the Kilbarry employees.

At a meeting held in the staff canteen on Monday, receiver David Carson, of the Deloitte group, told the workers they would be paid their wages this week and indeed every week until his work was finished. He said he did not know how long this would take. Introduced to the workers by chief executive John Foley as ‘the man who is now running the company’, Mr Carson assured the workers he would do everything in his power to sell the operation as a going concern.

There was standing room only at the meeting and the mood was extremely subdued, according to local sources. Speculation is mounting amongst the workers that their pension is in jeopardy, after it emerged that the group’s pension scheme is in debt of at least €111m. It may now have to be wound up if the company cannot be sold as a going concern.

It is understood that the pension entitlements of current workers would most likely be reduced if the scheme is wound up, since they would be last in line, after existing pensioners and other beneficiaries. Locally, there have been calls for the Government to bail out the pension fund. However, given the rapid deterioration of public finances, this would seem highly unlikely.