Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pensions & Politics

It is proving difficult to ascertain exactly what the purchase of Waterford Crystal by KPS will mean either for jobs, for the visitor centre or by extension, for the city. How many jobs will be maintained and of what standard? I would not be hopeful that there will be many or that they will be well-paying but we will hold fire until we see what happens.

The Visitors Centre will probably continue but perhaps not as we know it. It seems to me that the continuance of this tourist attraction in some form and with some manufacturing is crucial in allowing Waterford and the South East to continue to attract the 320,000 or so tourists who visited the showrooms and factory each year.

I had heard prior to leaving last week that KPS had pledged €10m towards the redundancy payments of ex-workers but that this was only for 'union' workers. If this is so then it is shameful and I would urge the unions not to discriminate against workers be they in a union or not. If they were not negotiating for the entire workforce then they should have made this clear and ensured that those non-union members were represented at all negotiations.

The issue, once again, that concerns me because I hear nothing about it and assume (rightly I am sure) that the new purchasers will not be taking any responsibility for, is the pension scheme and its members. I won't go into the details of the hard-cases that I have heard. We are all, in Waterford only too well aware of what they are and who is affected. Men and women who have little or no hope of working again, of retirement or almost retirement age. Men and women who did the right thing and invested in their pensions so that they could have a quality of life in old age and not be dependant on the state.

How can it be fair that they are not looked after? How can it be fair that their interests seem to be taking back seat? Who is going to grasp that nettle and sort it out - for sorted out it must be. Every time I turn on the radio it is more doom and gloom.

Today the Greens at their conference say that the very future Independence of our Country is at stake! Has anyone told them that they are in Government? Have they realised that if we lose that Independence it will have happened on their watch? Have they heard of collective responsibility? They seem to want to detach themselves from all but their own ministerial portfolios. Do they sit twiddling their thumbs while all other cabinet discussions are on-going? I doubt it. They are in there with 'the big boys' now. In fact they are the big boys now.

So come on; sort it out; tell us the bottom line and get on with it. With Governing. That's what you were elected and have elected to do, with Fianna Fail. Across all the ministerial portfolios including Finance and Enterprise and Welfare and Community etc. etc. etc. Give us some leadership and stop bleating.
Photo shows the names of some of the many Roches who immigrated into the US through Ellis Island in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Will JFK be the new Ellis Island in the early part of this Century when millions more will leave Ireland trying to find opportunity and fleeing despair? I hope not.

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