Negotiations between management and union representatives at Waterford Crystal regarding proposed redundancies at the local plant are expected to be referred shortly to the Labour Relations Commission.
Early skirmishing between the parties over a demand for the shedding of 490 jobs are believed to have stopped short of a financial offer being placed on the table and the talks, which started in mid November, are believed not to have progressed beyond the UNITE union submitting its response to the company’s restructuring plan.
Union representative Walter Cullen would only say that the negotiations were “ongoing” but it is understood they are headed for the LRC, probably before the middle of this month and that the union wants job loss numbers as well as redundancy terms to be considered within that forum.
Management has targeted late March or April for a final agreement.
Meanwhile, Waterford Wedgwood has announced that New York private equity fund Corporate Partners II has invested €50 million in the company, following lengthy negotiations which commenced following a shares sale announced last April.
Corporate Partners, a fund of Lazard Alternative Investments LLC, has subscribed for five million cumulative convertible preference shares.
Lazard CEO Ali E. Wambold and a managing principal of Corporate Partners, Jonathan H. Kagan, are to join the Waterford board.
The Corporate Partners fund concentrates on what it says are investments that act as a catalyst to enhancing the value of an enterprise.
In April, Waterford announced its intention to raise €100 million by way of an open offer of preference shares and a possible further €100 million.
The first sum was placed by the end of July, with about €83 million coming from the chairman and deputy chairman, Sir Anthony O’Reilly and Peter John Goulandris.
With the Lazard investment and a further €17 million from the chairman and deputy chairman, the total raised to date is €167 million.
The company is said to be in early discussions to place the remaining €33 million, with this amount being under-written by Birchfield Holdings Ltd., a company owned by the chairman and deputy chairman.
The group lost €29 million in the first half of 2007 and in November announced it was cutting 490 of its 1,000 jobs in Waterford.
Chief Executive John Foley said then that the group was likely to outsource the manufacturing of loss-making products to locations in Slovenia, Germany or other European countries.