Waterford Workers End Sit-in After Jobs Deal

Deal with new owners will save 176 jobs

Workers occupying the factory of Ireland's troubled Waterford Crystal agreed on March 22 to end their seven-week sit-in after reaching a deal with its new owners that would save 176 jobs, a trade union said.

The Unite union said the workers, who occupied the Kilbarry factory and visitor center in Waterford city on January 30, would end their occupation "over the next 24 hours." The sit-in was sparked by the news that production at the factory would cease immediately, after Waterford Wedgwood Group went into administration.

Shares in the group, which makes high-quality china and glass, were suspended on January 5 after efforts to find an investor failed. Last month, the Irish company's receiver, David Carson, said part of the group would be bought by U.S. private equity firm KPS Capital Partners.

Unite said it had reached a deal with KPS to retain 176 full-time jobs in sales and administration, and would over the next few weeks put together a bid to try to restart manufacturing at Kilbarry by the end of the year.

KPS has agreed to a 10-million-euro (US$14 million) compensation fund for all those who lose their jobs, a union spokesman said, but a deal on pension entitlements was yet to be reached.

The glass business, originally founded in the late 18th century, has been one of Waterford's major employers. But in January, Unite said 480 of 650 workers had received termination notices. Most of them were aged over 45 and were unlikely to find other work in the recession-hit country, it said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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