TDs seek financial inquiry over lack of redundancy payments by company

 

A NUMBER of TDs in Cork city have called for a full investigation into the financial structures of the Vita Cortex company as a group of about 30 workers yesterday continued their sit-in protest over redundancy payments.

The workers, who made fillings for furniture and aircraft seating products, were laid off last Friday. Staff at the Kinsale Road-based plant in Cork look unlikely to receive their redundancy entitlements because Vita Cortex says money for the payments is held in an account of a sister company controlled by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

Workers started the sit-in on Friday and have vowed to “stay put” until they get redundancy payments. Jim Power, an employee with over 40 years’ service at the firm, says he is saddened at the manner in which loyal workers have been treated by the firm.

“They [the company] are walking away and leaving us here Christmas week. You are just saying to yourself ‘Have these people any consciences?’ You wouldn’t believe the response we have received from the public. Saturday night and Sunday night, a chap brought in boxes of pizza and hamburgers and chips.”

Mr Power said it was difficult to know what to believe, as management, he said, had told them Nama would release the money. However, Nama has denied it gave any such undertaking to Vita Cortex.

Cork Labour TD Ciaran Lynch said: “The company is seeking to transfer machinery in the Ballyphehane plant to another factory in Athlone. This reaffirms to my mind the clear need for a comprehensive examination of the company’s finances to establish what financial arrangements were in place in the company, but most importantly to establish once and for all how the company will meet its financial obligations to the workers and their redundancy payments.”

He told Cork’s 96FM the situation where Vita Cortex workers faced the dole queue without the benefit of redundancy payments was completely unacceptable.

Local Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer joined Mr Lynch in calling for a full examination of Vita Cortex’s financial structures.

Nama contacted Mr Buttimer yesterday, and the agency’s chief executive Brendan McDonagh refuted suggestions it was looking favourably on releasing funds to settle the redundancy payments issue at the Vita Cortex plant.

In a statement, Nama insisted it had no financial relationship with Vita Cortex and no involvement in the decision on redundancies. It said the firm holding the cash and the firm making the workers redundant were two separate legal entities, and it legally could not pay out funds to the workers.