Minister joins Vita Cortex protest outside Dáil

 

MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton joined some 400 people outside Leinster House yesterday protesting in support of former employees of the Vita Cortex factory in Cork.

She spoke to former workers from the foam and polyfibre manufacturing company who were made redundant on December 16th without any redundancy pay.

Some 14 of the 32 former employees travelled to Dublin to take part in the rally, while the others continued a sit-in at the plant which has been ongoing since December 16th.

It was “very distressing”, Ms Burton said, “that a company can treat its loyal workers in this way”.

She was “absolutely determined to ensure the workers get what they are legally entitled to”.

Millionaire owner of Vita Cortex Jack Ronan has said he can not afford to pay his workers the 2.9 weeks’ pay per year of service he had agreed in negotiations with Siptu last September, and has refused to pay anything.

Patricia King, vice-president of Siptu, said it was “desperately important” workers made it clear they would not tolerate being an employer’s “lowest priority” when companies failed.

“Not only is it happening with the Vita Cortex workers. It’s happening with Lagan Bricks workers, the La Senza workers. It used to be that when employers went bust it was important that they did right by the people who had worked for them.

“There has been a change. Judgments are being made in boardrooms that the workers, who have invested their lives in some cases in these companies, are not important. The message must go out that workers will not tolerate it.”

Among those protesting yesterday were Seanie Kelleher, who had worked at Vita Cortex for 47 years, and Alan Walsh, a company van driver for 43 years.