Waterford Wedgwood pension fears

Friday 09 January 2009 20.30
Waterford Wedgwood - Has gone into receivership
Waterford Wedgwood - Has gone into receivership

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions was expected to raise concerns about Waterford Wedgwood's pension scheme at a meeting with the Taoiseach today.

It comes as a US private equity firm expressed interest in buying some of the group's assets.

Waterford Wedgwood announced it had gone into receivership earlier this week.

On Monday, the company asked that its shares be suspended from trading on the Irish Stock Exchange and said some of the group's Irish and UK subsidiaries had to go into receivership and administration.

The company, which produces Waterford Crystal, and Wedgwood and Royal Doulton china, employs 800 people in Ireland.

It is understood hundreds of current and former Irish workers at Waterford Wedgwood could lose their pension entitlements because of a shortfall in the company's retirement scheme.

The workers in the British part of Waterford Wedgwood are covered by a pension protection fund.

The Government examined setting up a pension insurance scheme two years ago but no legislation was implemented, which means there is no safety net for Irish staff as Waterford Wedgwood's pension fund is in deficit of over €100m.

Existing Irish pensioners will be unaffected.

Last night the receiver of Waterford Wedgewood said US private equity business KPS Capital Partners said it was interested in buying parts of the business.

But there is no guarantee that buying the existing business includes pension liabilities.