A group of local businessmen headed up by architect Nicky Fewer are engaged in ‘early and sensitive stage’ negotiations with a view to producing high value crystal items at Kilbarry and selling them on to KPS Capital Partners.
The New York-based equity firm took over several of Waterford Wedgwood’s assets two weeks ago, though the manufacturing plant was not part of the deal and this local group are hoping to continue the manufacture of at least some Waterford Crystal in the city of it’s origin.
Mr Fewer, the head of consortium Prestige Co, is understood to be meeting representatives of KPS this week to discuss the possibility of putting together a business plan. Chairman of the Waterford Airport Authority, Mr Fewer’s highly successful chairmanship of the organising committee for the Tall Ships’ Races in 2005 earned him the accolade of Freeman of the City and recognition by the Irish Tourism Board.
A spokesperson for Mr Fewer said that it would be premature for him to comment at this stage as negotiations with various parties are at an early and sensitive stage. However a reliable source told The Munster Express that such a high value production operation, probably manufacturing trophies, would at best create 30 jobs.
With Waterford Crystal’s annual tourism season set to commence on 17th March and bus loads of tourists scheduled to visit the world -famous visitor centre in the coming weeks, KPS are thought to be anxious for workers to vacate the Visitor Centre, where a sit-in protest is now entering its sixth week. The workers say they have no intention of budging until their situation is resolved, reiterating their claim that their sit-in is the only bargaining tool they have.
Hundreds of workers attended a meeting organised by trade union UNITE in the Tower Hotel last Sunday, where they were told about the emerging local consortium. Letters were issued to all employees this week from Waterford Crystal in receivership, advising them to make an appointment at the Sports and Leisure Centre to sign paperwork relating to their entitlements for statutory redundancy.
Representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and secretary to the Department of the Taoiseach Dermot McCarthymet with Kevin Foley of the Labour Relations Commission on Monday to examine the issues of redundancy payments, job losses and pension rights.