Representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the UNITE trade union have had an hour-long meeting with the Tánaiste to discuss pension difficulties facing workers at Waterford Crystal.

There are concerns that hundreds of current and former employees at the Waterford plant could lose their pension entitlements because of a shortfall in the company's retirement fund.

Jimmy Kelly of UNITE says he is confident the Government understands the importance of the issue. He confirmed that the union had made a number of proposals, including legislation on pensions protection. The union also proposed that pension annuity measures are introduced to create a fund to protect pensions.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan told the delegation she would discuss the issue with the Taoiseach and the Department of Finance.

UNITE says the Government is out of line with other European governments on the issue of pension protection. A further meeting on the issue between ICTU and the Government is to take place next Wednesday.

Earlier, UK administrators confirmed that 367 workers had lost their jobs at Waterford Wedgwood's British operation in Staffordshire.

Angus Martin, joint administrator, said the job losses were out of a total of 1,868 UK employees.

'The business will be continuing to trade as normal, and the administrators are continuing discussions with parties who have expressed an interest in purchasing the business,' he said. 'Every effort is being made to avoid further redundancies across the business,' he added.