The inspirational fight to save jobs at Waterford Crystal took a step forward this week.
Hundreds of workers have been occupying the threatened factory in south east Ireland since the end of January after a receiver moved to try to lock them out.
A mass meeting of over 600 workers last week heard that the New York based private equity firm KPS is attempting to buy the company.
KPS it says it can only guarantee 120 permanent jobs, with another 120 on rolling six-month contracts. This is a significant improvement on an original bid to buy the brand name but not keep any manufacturing jobs.
However, workers reacted with anger to the prospect of a 10 million euro deal between KPS and the Irish government to cover the outstanding redundancy payments.
One worker told Socialist Worker, “We’ve shown that by occupying we can get something. But the offer isn’t enough to cover the payments people are owed.”
The mass meeting voted to continue occupying the plant and to back continued negotiations with KPS.
Chief shop steward, Tony Kelly, says, “We are moving, not quite quickly enough, but we are moving.
“The morale in the occupation is high and people are determined. The 10 million euro they have offered is not enough and the guarantees of manufacturing jobs aren’t clear enough yet. So we will see what they come up with now.”
All the workers at the meeting were united in their determination to keep fighting. The vast majority simply want jobs guaranteed and a fair deal for those who have taken redundancy.
But a minority believe that the talks with the KPS should stop and the government should nationalise the factory.
Everyone is proud of the fight that they have put up so far.
One of the occupying workers, Dessie, said, “According to the state, we’re no longer workers here anymore. That really hit home this week.
“Even when you’re not on rota you find you’re coming down here [to the occupied plant] because you’re uneasy. But everyone is pulling together and will keep going until something comes out of this for us.”
Tom, another worker, told Socialist Worker, “We feel fully justified. When they announced the closure, it was all doom and gloom. By occupying we have proved you can change things.
“We aren’t watching this on television feeling sad – we are fighting for jobs.”
Rush messages of support and donations to Unite Hall, Keyzer Street, Waterford County, Waterford, Republic of Ireland, phone 00353 5187 5438, or email firstname.lastname@example.org