Waterford Crystal is laying off nearly 100 employees and is expected to lay off its entire workforce for a week in June.

The moves are part of a widespread rationalisation programme due to weak demand in the US for prestige goods such as Waterford Glass products.

The company is also planning to opt out of the forthcoming national pay agreement, Sustaining Progress.

Waterford Crystal employs nearly 1,600 between its main factory in Waterford city and another in Dungarvan.

Company executives have said that sales performances have not met expectations and that it is likely both factories will be put on short time working for a period later this year.

The 94 employees who are being laid off now are contract workers, some of whom have been with the company for a number of years.

The week-long closure in June has not yet been agreed between unions and management and meetings are due to be held in the next week to discuss the company's financial situation.

Earlier this year Waterford Wedgwood chief executive Redmonf O'Donoghue said that uncertainty caused by concerns about war and terrorism was continuing to have an impact on the Waterford factories.