Management and unions at Waterford Crystal are to meet next week amid speculation that the company plans to introduce short-time working in sections of the company's factories in Waterford and Dungarvan.

Waterford Crystal employs over 1,600 people in Waterford city and county. It is one of the leading brand names in the luxury goods market here and abroad, especially in the US.

The overall downturn in the US economy in the past six months and the ending of the once-off buying spree generated by the company's highly successful Millennium products has led to a drop in crystal sales.

It is understood the company could have at least £90m of crystal products stockpiled at present.

And last week's terrorist attacks in the US, which are expected to dampen consumer confidence, will not help Waterford Crystal sales abroad.

With that in mind, the company is bringing back to Waterford the manufacture of some products which were outsourced in the past.

There is also speculation the company plans to introduce a three day working week, but a company spokesperson would only say that staff would be addressed by senior management next week.

Union representatives say possible work changes such as a three day week have not been discussed with them.