Waterford Crystal announced in October 2008 that it plans to dismiss another 280 people (following the announcement of 490 redundancies earlier in 2008), which, if it goes ahead, would mean the end of large-scale manufacturing at the famous crystal manufacturing plant. Most production would be relocated overseas to central and eastern Europe, where costs are lower. The company told workers it would continue to make some hand-crafted crystal products in Waterford, and would also keep its tourist trail. But this would leave just 70 production staff in the plant, mainly making luxury hand-crafted crystal goods for the on-site visitor centre and tourist trail. A total of just over 200 employees would remain, including sales and marketing, maintenance and administrative staff. This compares with a high of 3,300 in the 1970’s.
The company and the Unite trade union were to engage in negotiations on management proposals. Group chief financial officer, Anthony Jones, said it had become clear that maintaining manufacturing operations in Ireland at their current level was “not feasible” for Waterford Crystal. A timescale for winding-down manufacturing has not yet been finalised and will depend on how negotiations progress between management and the union.
Background information on the job cuts at Waterford Crystal is available on the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO).