A MAN began a hunger strike yesterday in an effort to force a better redundancy package from his employers.
“I’m prepared to die. I’ll go ‘til the end. I’ll either get the package or go out in a timber box,” a defiant John Lane said last night.
The 54-year-old from Ballylanders in Co Limerick worked with Dairygold for 38-and-a-half years.
He was a shop assistant in its co-op superstore in New Square, Mitchelstown, in north Cork.
In 2006, it became a 4HOME premises when ownership was transferred to Reox Holdings — a spin-off business arm of Dairygold.
Mr Lane was one of 24 staff from the stores in Mitchelstown and on Patrick Street in Fermoy, along with 14 members of staff from 4HOME in Annacotty, Co Limerick, who lost their jobs in August.
The Labour Court made a recommendation that Reox pay 6.6 weeks’ pay for every year of service rather than the standard two weeks it offered staff in August.
But Mr Lane, a separated father-of-nine children, who range in age from six to 32, maintains that Dairygold should be responsible for his redundancy payment
He claims he was offered the equivalent of just 1.1 weeks pay for every year of service — the equivalent of €35,000.
He wants five weeks of pay per year of service, plus the statutory redundancy payment, which would be the equivalent of €150,000.
He parked his red Nissan car in the centre of Mitchelstown’s town square yesterday morning, began refusing solid food, and has vowed to remain there until his demands are met.
“This is a peaceful protest. I have no job, no pay, and no redundancy,” he said.
“I have no other option. If I don’t fight for my rights, nobody will. I have no other way of taking them on,” he said.
He is being supported by family and friends but said he is concerned about the effect his protest may have on his 85-year-old mother Kitty.
A spokesman for 4HOME said: “4HOME management have been informed of the development and are obviously concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the individual but most refrain from comment because of the sensitivities involved.”
Of the 40 people who lost their jobs in August, Mr Lane is the only person not to have accepted the improved redundancy terms.
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