The pensions ombudsman Paul Kenny has described the Waterford Crystal pension fund as technically insolvent, saying many workers will not receive their full entitlements.

Today ,unions representing workers discussed the issue with Taoiseach Brian Cowen. They will hold a further meeting with Tánaiste Mary Coughlan on Monday.

The development comes as a US private equity group has expressed interest in buying certain assets of group.

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 the group are covered by a Pension Protection Fund.

The Irish Government examined setting up a pension insurance scheme two years ago but no legislation was ever implemented. That 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. But workers and former staff under retirement age will come further down the list of priorities.

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

But that would not necessarily address the pension issue as there is no guarantee of buying the existing business including pension liabilities.