Government blamed for south east job losses

Niamh Nolan

As the fallout continues from the closure of Waterford Crystal's Dungarvan plant with the loss of almost 500 jobs, the South East Regional Authority called for urgent intervention to stem job losses, which totalled more than 1,500 in recent months.

"The south-east region's employment situation is worsening, with the most recent unemployment rate standing at 6.2%, the highest of any Irish region, and way above the national rate of 4.7%," Councillor John Brennan, cathaoirleach of the South East Regional Authority, said.

"This region is not getting the attention it deserves from government and the industrial development agencies and I am calling for the south east to be prioritised for urgent investment and job creation."

Recent redundancies in the south-east region include Pall Ireland in Tipperary (150); Wexford Electronix Ltd (over 300); Tex Tech Industries (Ireland) Ltd (70); Comerama Textile Mills in Kilkenny (160); Braun Ireland in Carlow (225) and the Carlow Sugar Beet Factory (139).

A spokesperson for Enterprise Minister Mícheál Martin confirmed the minister had "no immediate plans" to visit Waterford, but stressed he had engaged with the local enterprise development agencies regarding the job losses.

Meanwhile, angry Waterford Crystal employees yesterday accused management of "squandering the benefits" of successive pay cuts and job losses, warning any future redundancies would not be voluntary.

Speaking after a two-hour meeting with company management, union representatives said they would not enter discussions regarding redundancy terms in the absence of agreement on a new business plan.

"Under no circumstances are we going to accept the company's proposals as announced yesterday," Walter Cullen, regional industrial organiser of the ATGWU, said.

"We have dealt with different situations before and resolved it millions of euros of savings have been achieved through job losses and pay cuts. We'll not enter another agreement for management to squander," he added.

A company spokesperson later said no further comment would be made while discussions continued with employee representatives. They will meet again on Tuesday.

Local Fianna Fail Senator Brendan Kenneally has called for departing workers to get a redundancy package that includes share options.

"Given the sacrifice the Dungarvan workers have to make, they should be given shares so they could share in any future prosperity at Waterford Crystal," he said.

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