Labour Relations Commission talks between management and union at Waterford Crystal over the company’s demand for 492 redundancies have collapsed after four weeks of what have been described as tortuous and frustrating negotiations.
The company has now declared that five days of short-time working will commence, straddled over two weeks, immediately after the Easter weekend. The Unite Union does not accept that move by management pointing out that negotiations are still ongoing.
The talks under the auspices of Commission facilitator Kevin Foley were due to continue for a further day but The Munster Express understands that, late on Tuesday night, Mr. Foley told both sides that a serious stalemate existed and he saw no point in continuing.
At that stage, it is understood the union negotiators asked that the matter go to the Labour Court but the management representatives indicated that they did not have the authority to agree to such a move.
There was no contact between the sides the following day but yesterday (Thursday) the company chief executive, John Foley, asked for a meeting with the union representatives and informed them that short-time working would commence on March 25th..
The union did not accept that scenario and again requested that the matter go before the Labour Court before any such decisions were taken. They informed Mr. Foley that, unlike previous occasions when they reluctantly drew up schedules for short-time working, they would not do so on this occasion. Mr. Foley is believed to have replied that management would deal with the matter itself.
As we went to press this morning, usually reliable sources said the atmosphere in the Kilbarry plant was ‘not good’ but that Mr. Foley had agreed to meet with union negotiators early next week outside the Labour Court.
At a general meeting of the crystal workers in The Forum on Monday last, there were calls for Mr. Foley to get involved in the negotiations and there was also strong opposition to the notion of short-time.
While the union is opposed to any redundancies, it is attempting to negotiate the best possible terms for those who choose to leave the company. The union insists the company offer should match the Dungarvan Crystal terms of six weeks pay per year of service but management is only offering four weeks including the two statutory weeks. There is also a cap on the redundancy which would not suit workers with long-term service.