Workers to meet Vita Cortex owners


RESOLUTION TALKS to take place between Vita Cortex owners and former workers next week have been welcomed by Cork TDs.

The announcement of talks to take place at the Labour Relations Commission in Cork on Tuesday was made yesterday as workers prepared to take their campaign to Leinster House for a lunchtime protest at 1pm today.

The “exploratory discussions” will help clarify the facts surrounding the case of 32 workers seeking a €1.2 million redundancy package, 2.9 weeks pay per year of service for each worker.

The commission will chair the meeting, to be attended by Siptu, Vita Cortex workers and the owners of the foam manufacturing plant, which closed on December 16th.

In a statement the commission said it had agreed to chair “exploratory discussions so we can help the parties to clarify the facts of the situation and against that background to explore with the parties what potential there is for finding a mutual way forward.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said he was pleased dialogue between the parties had been facilitated.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked the Minister to clarify the legal basis of Nama’s decision not to release funds to pay the workers’ entitlements and he called on the Minister to meet Vita Cortex management and workers.

Labour TD Ciarán Lynch said Jack Ronan employed a financial company to restructure his company in such a way that liability would not travel from one company to another.

“Nobody knows better than Jack Ronan that the Nama claim is a ruse,” he said.

Vita Cortex workers take their campaign to Leinster House today, the 28th day of their sit-in protest over redundancy payments.

Twenty former staff members were due to travel to Dublin this morning, leaving a core group of 12 to maintain the sit-in at the foam manufacturing factory at Ballyphehane in Cork.

The workers and their families will join union members travelling from all over the country for a public rally outside the Dáil.

Shop steward Seán Kelleher, who worked at the plant for 47 years, said morale among the workers at the factory was high.

“This will be our first national action and we are looking forward to it. The politicians are back from their Christmas break and we are hopeful they can do something for us,” he said.

The rally will be followed by meetings with TDs including Mr Martin, Mr Lynch and Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer and a questions-and-answers conference at Buswells Hotel.

Cork senior hurling coach Jimmy Barry Murphy visited the plant yesterday offering his support and that of the team.

He presented a signed Cork hurling jersey to the workers and called on Vita Cortex bosses and the Government to do what they could for the workers immediately. “We can’t do a whole lot but just offer our support. They are human beings with families. The more this drags on the worse it gets,” he said.

Support for the campaign has been growing steadily since a Late Late Show interview with workers last Friday.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enormous support. We know that people are watching us now.

“Jimmy Barry Murphy came this morning with a signed jersey. There is great support in all those signatures, to think they would be thinking of us is a major boost,” Mr Kelleher said.

Supporters unable to attend today’s protest outside the Dáil are set to attend a solidarity protest, organised by the Cork Council of Trade Unions along with friends and family of the workers, taking place in Cork next Saturday at 2pm.