IFI workers set to take State and firm to court over payouts

IFI WORKERS are set to take the Government and ICI to the Labour Relations Court in an attempt to increase their redundancy packages.

More than 200 workers voted at the Marino Point plant in Cobh, Co Cork, last night for the move, claiming a precedent existed whereby anybody previously laid off by the company received non-statutory redundancy of 5.5 weeks pay per year of service.

Both shareholders, the Government and British-owned multi-national ICI have offered workers a maximum of 2.2 weeks pay per year of service.

“We are going to the Labour Relations Court to get justice and equity, entitlements which were the precedent in IFI before,” worker director Stephen O’Riordan said.

He claimed the redundancy package put forward by shareholders would result in an average pay-out of just over €45,000 for each worker, many of whom were in their late 40s or 50s and who had served the company for more than 25 years.

“We’re going to the Labour Relations Court in the hope of winning our case and doubling the average payout to around €90,000,” he said.

Workers are also considering taking legal action against both shareholders for not complying with the statutory 30 days notice for redundancy and for an alleged shortfall in pension funds of up to €25 million. Yesterday, they also signed a previously controversial

document entitling them to an interim payment of €5,000.

Workers agreed to sign up after the shareholders reworded the small print amid fears employees could be signing away some of their rights.

They also decided not to blockade the plant and to release assets to the liquidator Ray Jackson, so he could sell them off.

The current assets of the three plants in Cork, Arklow and Belfast are valued at €77.5 million of which €55 million is held in stock.

Marino Point, which manufactures ammonia, has 26,000 tonnes of it stored within the plant. The company is owed €10 million by customers but its trade creditors’ bill tops the €25 million mark.

The shareholders said last Friday there was no way they could increase the non statutory redundancy package.

However, Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment spokesman Gerry Donnelly said if there was a surplus following the liquidators sell-off, a further payment might be made to workers.

Labour party leader Pat Rabbitte is to march with IFI workers when they highlight their case in Cork city next Saturday. The march will start outside Connolly Hall at 1.30pm and culminate in Daunt’s Square.

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