The controversy over Government backing of Waterford Crystal continues. The high debt of the Waterford Wedgwood Group seems to be a huge issue.
Can the debt related to Waterford and not to Wedgwood and other non Irish operations be disentangled? How will the various bankers collude in this measure?
They may not be happy with just the Waterford guarantee from the Government as it could leave them exposed elsewhere. As Taoiseach Cowen said last Friday in Mullinavat, there are many technical and legal difficulties.
Short time working at the Glass over the summer months is one solution to the crisis, the weak dollar over the last few years having hit the firm’s largely dollar sales. The three year interest guarantee seems a tough one to resolve.
The logic of keeping the Waterford plant open is beyond all doubt, not just for manufacturing but for the strategic tourism that it creates for Ireland and the south east. Minister Cullen supports this point as do many other Ministers.
Will the Waterford plant be sold to a third party or taken out of the group to secure Government guarantees, as one weekend press report suggested. It may be better for Waterford in the long run as the Wedgwood ceramics plant seems to have more difficulties.
In the meantime people in the city of Waterford and environs are worried about the future of the plant as are many families of workers at the plant.
These are uncertain times. It is important to maintain the plant in Waterford and to find the means to do so.
Will the company be able to offer more to the government in return for the guarantee, in terms of the plant’s ownership and development that may allow it stand up as a business transaction and not break EU rules?
As one of the top tourist attractions it has to be kept, the alternative would be a terrible blow to the tourism industry. Hopefully some sound minds can come up with a satisfactory solution.
In the meantime the short time working will cause some pain. Other workers want out but the redundancies are not all in place we hear. It all makes for much uncertainty.