Union wants Waterford nationalised

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The Independent Online
A TRADE union leader at Waterford Wedgwood yesterday called on the Irish government to nationalise the company, after it said it wanted to cut 525 jobs and reduce pay by up to 25 per cent, writes John Murray.

The luxury crystal and china company has shed 1,300 jobs at its two Irish plants since 1987. It reduced pre-tax losses from Ir pounds 21.4m ( pounds 20m) to Ir pounds 2.7m last year. Waterford now makes 10 per cent of its glass outside Ireland and the chairman, Don Brennan, warned last month that manufacturing there might cease altogether if it remained uneconomic. Production of less high-quality glass has been contracted out to plants in Portugal, Germany and the former Yugoslavia, at a third of the cost in Ireland.

Unions were told of the company's plans at the weekend. They called for a meeting with the Irish labour minister, Brian Cowen.

'Waterford Crystal is a national resource and it is up to the government to see that it stays,' one union leader, Jimmy Kelly, said.