IFI workers heckle Ahern

THE Taoiseach was heckled by more than 300 angry IFI workers, seeking an improved redundancy package, when he arrived in Cork last night.

Workers are furious at the €24.4 million redundancy fund offered by the company’s shareholders after IFI plants in Arklow, Belfast and Cork shut down yesterday.

Mr Ahern and Health Minister Micheál Martin met with union officials at Cork Airport before attending a Fianna Fáil fundraiser in the Silver Springs Hotel.

“The meeting went reasonably well and the Taoiseach gave us promises. He was concerned that people were being turfed out without their legal entitlements.

“But we have to remember the Tánaiste gave us the same commitments on October 17,” worker director Stephen O’Riordan said.

Workers vented their anger at the Taoiseach when he arrived at the hotel for the FF bash, and the crowd jostled him on his way into the building.

Father of five Christy Santry, 48, said workers were protesting because they weren’t getting their legal rights.

“We were treated very shabby. I was only given one hour to leave the factory last Wednesday after working there for 25 years,” he said.

Workers’ wives and children also protested. Nuala Twomey, whose husband Dermot, 52, worked in the plant for 26 years, said the treatment of employees was inhumane. “The Taoiseach should be ashamed of himself,” she said.

And trade union officials in Belfast, Arklow and Cork are to call on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to abandon National Wage Agreement negotiations next week, unless the Government increases the redundancy package for 620 IFI workers.

The Cork Council of Trade Unions has already written to ICTU telling it to break off negotiations with the Government next Tuesday. ICTU want the package increased from two weeks to five-and-a-half weeks pay per year of service.

Cork Council of Trade Unions president Pat Guilfoyle said they were also seeking Government assurances on pension entitlements for the workers.

IFI workers have chartered a plane to fly to London next Wednesday to protest outside ICI - the British-based 49% shareholder in IFI.

“We’re going to demand that ICI put more money into the redundancy fund then they have done so far,” Mr O’Riordan said.

He also confirmed that workers at the Marino Point plant in Cobh, Co Cork, would be holding meetings every day next week to plan the most effective way of improving the package.

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