Vita Cortex workers continue sit-in


Former workers the Vita Cortex Plant in Cork have warmly welcomed pledges of support from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Sitpu president, Jack O’Connor backing their demand for proper redundancy payments.

Today, ICTU issued a statement saying that the 32 workers at the Vita Cortex plant in Cork had been treated shamefully but had shown “great courage and determination in very difficult circumstances” as they fought for redundancy payments.

ICTU general secretary David Begg said that the Vita Cortex workers were being treated badly: “It’s very unjust…They can’t even get the statutory redundancy payments to which they are entitled. It’s so shabby that they are being treated in this way,” he said.

“Their campaign has struck a chord because they are refusing to accept the imposition of a very obvious wrong. The Government cannot simply stand by and wring its hands in despair. Like it or not, they are involved because of the role played by NAMA in this often murky affair.”

“Citing legal niceties and technicalities just won’t cut it. Remember Nama is the same body that sees no difficulty in paying hundreds of thousands of euro annually to speculators who were central to crashing the economy, while 32 workers are denied what they are legally and morally entitled to.

“That is wrong, no matter how you dress it up. The Vita Cortex workers will have the support of Congress until there is a just resolution to this situation,” Mr Begg said.

Vita Cortex worker, Jim Power said the 32 former staff members occupying the Kinsale Road plan had received a great morale boost from both the statement by Mr Begg and the visit by Siptu president, Jack O’Connor on Christmas Eve when he pledged the union’s support.

Mr O’Connor said that Siptu intended to mobilize its members across the country in the New Year if the government and Nama who hold frozen bank accounts belonging to the owners of Vita Cortex fail to act to resolve the dispute.

Mr Power told The Irish Times that all the workers were seeking was “a decent compromise” where the 32 workers laid off on December 16 would receive the same terms of 2.9 weeks wages per year of service that was offered to others who had left the company.

He said that the meeting that level of redundancy would amount to a total €1.2 million for the employer who would get a 60 per cent tax refund on that amount and would ensure that staff now being left go were treated the same as those laid off in previous redundancies.

Workers have been told that Nama has frozen a bank account of a sister company to Vita Cortex containing €2.5 million but Nama Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh said it cannot legally release the funds and the redundancy issue was a matter for the owners of Vita Cortex.