Hundreds continue Ireland factory occupation

Reposted from Morning Star HUNDREDS of workers spent a fourth day occupying the Waterford Crystal factory in Kilbarry on Monday in protest against plans to axe 480 jobs.

Heavily indebted luxury tableware manufacturer Waterford Wedgwood called in receivers Deloitte last month after failing to buy more time from creditors.

Deloitte receiver David Carson halted production at Waterford Wedgwood's flagship Kilbarry plant on Friday and announced that 480 workers faced the chop, despite talks with potential buyers.

Current and former employees responded by storming the building and over 100 workers are now occupying the factory on a shift basis.

Local shops have been supplying them with food and drink, while blankets and sleeping bags have also been brought inside.

Some 60 workers are remaining in the visitor centre overnight and were joined by more staff yesterday, bringing the number to over 200.

Government minister and Waterford TD Martin Cullen reported that US private equity firm Clarion Capital had made a 'substantial bid' late on Saturday night and has a 'deep interest' in maintaining the Waterford plant.

Trade union Unite backed the Clarion offer, claiming that it would maintain manufacturing in the city and retain 300 positions.

Unite, which represents around 90 per cent of staff, briefed hundreds of workers on proposals from Clarion.

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said that they were 'encouraged' by the bid.

On Saturday, Unite union officials addressed over 3,000 people on the grounds of the Waterford Crystal visitors centre, who braved pouring rain to show their support for the Waterford workers.

Mr Kelly told the rally that the government 'has to take a massive interest in this brand.'

He urged ministers not to shy away from nationalisation and 'investing in the visitors centre and in manufacturing' at Kilbarry.

Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey said: 'There is huge emotion and solidarity being shown right across the political and social spectrum in the city and county of Waterford and, of course, further afield.'

Waterford Wedgwood employs 8,000 worldwide, including 1,900 working in manufacturing and retail in Britain.

The company, which had net debts of nearly 450 million euro (£407 million) last October, has already cut or moved a lot of production to Asia.