1,600 workers at Waterford Crystal's factories in Waterford and Dungarvan have been told that the company is to introduce short time working as soon as possible.

The company's chief executive, John Foley, met union representatives and other employees this morning.

He told them that due to the downturn in the US market, the company would have to put in place a number of measures to balance supply and demand, including short-time working.

The company says it is in discussions with unions on the details of the measures. A spokesperson said there were no plans for job losses.

In a statement, the company said that the impact of the downturn in the US economy was already being felt in its US business. 'The tragic and horrific events of September 11 have had an immediate and severe impact on our business with a marked reduction in retail activity and widespread cancellations by Americans due to visit Ireland.'

'We are determined to match supply with demand; we will continue to consult our workforce about finding ways to reduce output. As ever, our aim is to ensure the continuing development of a vibrant and dynamic company in order to protect the interests of all stakeholders in the company - employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders alike', Mr Foley said.