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Crystal workers to get up to €40k in deal

FORMER Waterford Crystal workers will see payments of up to €40,000 as part of a government pension compensation deal.

The cabinet is meeting tomorrow and will discuss the package for almost 1,800 workers.

Sources revealed the new package to be presented to staff includes a lump sum payment of €1,000 per year of service.

They said annual pension payments will be based on tiered arrangements, which will offer the greatest protection to those on lower level pensions.

The package will be based on a calculation related to a percentage of a worker's pension entitlements, together with their years of service.

The deal will not affect social welfare payments.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said "a lot of work had been put into reaching an agreement" and the matter is due to come before the Government.

The Government is expected to sign off on the deal later in the week and former employees will then vote on it.

The pension package was brokered by the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, following months of talks.

Discussions were convened following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice in favour of the workers last year.

The court ruled that the State is in breach of its obligations under the terms of the EU Insolvency Directive to ensure employees get sufficient pension entitlements.

The High Court was due to decide the level of money involved next month.

The workers' union, UNITE, said it was hopeful that progress had been made at talks on the compensation package.

"Our understanding is that the deal will go to Cabinet on Tuesday, and will then go to Government on Thursday," said a spokesperson.

MEETING

She said the union hopes to be able to put a recommendation to its members at a meeting in Waterford on Saturday.

The glassware brand closed in 2009 after going into receivership with the loss of over 700 jobs.

A total of 1,774 former staff were left with nothing when the company and pension became insolvent.

Thirty four workers have since died without receiving any entitlements.

They had a defined benefit scheme, which means they were promised two-thirds of their final salary once they had worked for 40 years.

One former Waterford Crystal worker Tommy Hogan had yet to retire when the company collapsed in 2009. When he did retire he ended up with €100 a week from the pension scheme, even though he had been promised €400, the Unite union said.

The European case was taken by Unite under the 2008 EU Insolvency Directive, with the union arguing that the Government was obliged to protect employees as both the company and its pension fund were insolvent.

A UNITE meeting with the workers was due to take place to discuss the deal yesterday. It was postponed as the details of the package were finalised.

hnews@herald.ie


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