The Labour Relations Commission has signed off on a comprehensive pensions’ recommendation for up to up to 1,700 former Waterford Crystal workers who were left with nothing when both the company and their pension became in insolvent back in 2009.
As we went to press on Monday night, news emerged that a deal on the ongoing pensions’ dispute was ‘over the line’.
Well-placed sources confirmed that the deal must be signed off by the relevant Government ministers, Joan Burton (Social Protection) and Brendan Howlin (Public Expenditure), in the coming days but union leaders are optimistic that a final resolution is now in sight.
Workers were this week notified by their trade union UNITE of a meeting at the Woodlands Hotel this Saturday at 11am, where full details of the package proposed by the Labour Relations Commission will be given, for consideration.
Included in the package is a lump sum payment amounting to approximately €1,000 per year of service, which will not affect the recipients’ social welfare entitlements.
Should the deal on offer be accepted by UNITE members, it’s hoped that this lump sum – payable as part of the pension protection settlement won in the European Court of Justice last year – will be made prior to Christmas.
A key focus of the LRC talks, which have been ongoing since September, was to secure a guarantee that this lump sum would be tax free.
A number of meetings have taken place with Revenue officials during the course of the LRC talks and negotiators were said to ‘very confident’ that a deal could be done on the tax implications of the lump sum.
The proposed figure of about €1,000 per year of service will form part of the overall pension settlement and applies to all UNITE members, regardless of what pay scale they were on when the factory closed in 2009.
This will be especially beneficial to the factory’s former non-craft workers and was negotiated in the interests of equity amongst all Glass workers – and in recognition of the financial suffering inflicted on them.
The deal, to be voted on by UNITE members, would be a massive cash injection in the region of €50 million for the city’s economy.
Approximately 650 workers attended a meeting at Dooley’s Hotel last month for an update from UNITE officials, after which sources said the mood was one of “overwhelming relief” that a deal was finally on the cards.
Should the proposal not be accepted by workers, UNITE will proceed with its High Court date of January 13th. This latter process would not address issues of social welfare or taxation.