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Cullinane appeals for support for glass factory workers

22 November, 2007


Sinn Féin City Councillor David Cullinane has appealed for the people of Waterford to support the workers and Trade Unions at Waterford Crystal in their fight to save jobs at the factory.


Speaking after the announcement that management were looking for 490 redundancies at the Kilbarry plant Cllr Cullinane said:


“The workers at the factory have shown their loyalty to the company. They have accepted austerity measures over the last number of years, including forgoing their rightful pay rises under the Social Partnership agreement.


“Despite this pay freeze, management have shown no regard for the workers in making this decision. There has been no consultation with the workers or their elected Trade Union representatives, and they appear to have simply gone for the easiest cost-cutting option of outsourcing jobs to a low wage country instead of rewarding a loyal workforce.


“I understand that management have set a target of 50% profit on each and every item made, which cannot be met by production in Waterford, where most items make 35% - 40% profit. Is that profit level not enough? Most companies would be very happy with that profit margin. To seek 50% profit margins smacks of corporate greed at its worst, especially at the expense of worker’s livelihoods.


“The Waterford Crystal brand is synonymous with the City and I believe it is a serious mistake to transfer production from here. Only last week I was visiting relatives in the US and they were appalled at the idea of Waterford Crystal being made anywhere but in Waterford. They told me they would not be buying any more products if they were not made here. The brand has been built on the skills and loyalty of workers and on the City of Waterford. This outsourcing will undermine the brand.


“I am also concerned that management plans for investment in the tourist sector will be undermined by this transfer of production out of the city. How can a Waterford Crystal tourism brand survive if the manufacturing is elsewhere? It raises questions of misrepresentation. The tourism plans would work more effectively if they were put in place beside continued production in Waterford. This is not an either/or situation.


“This is all part of the “race to the bottom” that Sinn Féin and others warned against. We saw it happen at Irish Ferries, and we’ve seen foreign investment such as Fruit of the Loom transferred to low wage economies. I am appalled that an indigenous company should now take this step.


“Only last week the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise Trade and Employment announced it was to visit East Cork and Waterford to see for themselves some of the country’s unemployment blackspots. This was at the behest of Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan. I understand that visit will be made in late January. I will be contacting Arthur, and Sinn Féin leader in the Oireachtas, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, today to ask them to raise this matter in the Dáil as a matter of urgency.


“I have already spoken to Trade Union representatives to offer Sinn Féin’s support in their fight to save jobs. I appeal to the people of Waterford to support the workers in trying to save jobs and to secure favourable redundancy packages on a voluntary basis if jobs are lost. The unions are pledged not to accept this situation as a fait accompli. They rightly see that there are other options than outsourcing these jobs. They deserve the full support of the people of the city.” ENDS







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