Munster MEP Colm Burke said this week that EU funding was available to help Waterford Crystal Workers and he urged the Government to act immediately on their behalf.
Speaking to The Munster Express in Brussels, MEP Burke said the Waterford Crystal workers needed to be told whether or not they had jobs and what were their future prospects.
“We know that KPS Capital Partners is looking at constructing a new tourist centre on the site of the current manufacturing facility but we do not know yet if the company will retain any manufacturing jobs at the site. Workers deserve to know what their fate is”, he insisted.
He said EU funding would be available to the glass workers if, as looked likely, more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs were lost as a result of the closure. The funding was available under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) which aimed to help workers made redundant as a result of changing global trade patterns to find another job as quickly as possible. He pointed out that such EU funding for globalisation adjustment has been implemented in parts of Spain where the car industry has been affected by the global recession.
“I have been liaising with the European Commission to determine the appropriateness of the fund for certain cases in Ireland and I have been informed that there is enough money on the EU side to help Irish workers once the Government agrees to match the funding.
“The fund is essential to help the Waterford workforce rebound strongly and contribute to bringing Ireland out of the recession. The EU is ready to help Waterford and the ball is now very much in the government’s court”, he declared.
Calling on the Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, to clarify, as a matter of urgency, what her plans were for pursuing EU funding to help the Waterford Crystal workers, MEP Burke reminded workers that funding was already available to them under the European Social Fund once the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment devised programmes to meet its criteria.
Meanwhile, South Kilkenny-based MEP, Liam Aylward, also met The Munster Express in Brussels. He said he had made strenuous efforts on behalf of the Waterford Crystal workers and he was hopeful there could be some state support for the crystal plant. He had had many representations from the workers and had been in contact with major Government Departments.
He admitted that getting approval from the Department of Finance was no easy matter. However, he would continue working on the matter and would also look at EU supports.
Labour Party MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, has also taken an interest in the plight of the Waterford Crystal workers. Following oral and written questions put down by him, MEP De Rossa told The Munster Express that, as far as Ireland in particular was concerned in the wake of the difficulties of Waterford Wedgwood and the risk for the pensions of its workers, the Commission had requested further information from Ireland on the measures adopted to protect the workers, in particular as regards defined benefit schemes. Should an analysis of the reply show that these measures did not fulfil the requirements of Article 8 of Directive 2008/94/EC1, as interpreted by the European Court of Justice, the Commission would not hesitate to initiate infringement procedures under Article 226 of the Treaty.