Sunday, February 1, 2009

Workers Occupy Waterford Crystal Factory

Lisbeth Latham
Angry workers at the Waterford Wedgewood's crystal factory in Kilbarry, Ireland have begun an occupation of the factory, following the announcement by the receiver on January 30 that the factory would be closed. The closure means that 480 of the 800 workers employed at the factory would immediately loose their jobs. More than 200 workers are involved in the occupation with more than 100 workers at given time occupying the factory’s visitor’s centre at any given time.

The company went into receivership on January 5, following five consecutive years of losses. The factory had remained open as administrators looked for potential buyers. On Friday, the receiver David Carson announced that the money borrowed to keep the factory operating had run out and production would cease. According to Sinn Fein workers rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD, the previous day during a meeting with potential investors, Carson had made a commitment that the factory would not be closed while there were people interested in investing the company.

Emergency talks occurred between officials from Unite, which organises 90% of the workers, and David Begg, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary, met with Carson and Dermot McCarthy, Secretary of the Department of The Taoiseach. Prior to the meeting UNITE regional organiser Walter Cullen said the only way the stand-off would end would be if the receiver reversed the decision to shut down manufacturing.

More than 2000 people attended a rally on January 31 to support the occupying workers. Union officials addressing the rally called on the government to intervene in the dispute and allow the company to continue trading for at least a week while potential buyers are spoken with again. Sinn Fein has call on the government to stop the receiver from closing the factory.


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Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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