Vita Cortex protesters prepare for Christmas away from their families

IN less than two weeks, dad Ger O’Flynn will be the father of twins.

He will most likely not be spending Christmas Day with his wife Denise and daughter Kellie, 6, in preparation for the arrivals.

He is one of 30 sacked workers at Vita Cortex who are staging a sit-in at the Cork plant over the firm’s failure to provide redundancy payments.

Christmas celebrations, he said, have been turned on their head.

“It’s a very stressful time now,” said the Midleton man.

“It’s terrible, it’s very uncertain time for me and my family. This whole situation is adding to the stress for my wife, it just isn’t helping.

“I was looking forward to having a couple of weeks paternity leave — now we won’t have the cushion of the redundancy money.”

The workers at the foam packaging company, owned by businessman Jack Ronan, were laid off last Friday and have since been engaged in a sit-in.

The staff appear unlikely to receive their redundancy entitlements because the company says the money is held in an account of a sister company controlled by the NAMA.

Lord Mayor of Cork Terry Shannon, who yesterday met workers and the managing director at the plant, said the situation was “deplorable”.

“I feel for the workers here not alone because it’s Christmas week but because it’s a dreadful scenario at any time.

“I think people, who give loyal service to a company, are entitled to be reimbursed and to get their due entitlements.”

He said he had written to NAMA and Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton, asking them to take immediate action to resolve the matter.

Cllr Shannon said managing director Ian Kirby advised him of a “dreadful financial scenario” facing the company and, furthermore, the future of company plants in Athlone and Belfast were uncertain.

Cllr Shannon said Jack Ronan had a moral obligation to the workers to remedy the scenario from his personal finances.

The workers are now planning to continue the sit in over Christmas and for “as long as it takes”.

Regina Hickey from Glanmire, who has two teenage daughters, said her not being at home was hard for her family.

“My daughter rang me last night and asked ‘are you actually going to come home tonight?’ I miss them dreadfully,” she said.

Aimee Cotter from Togher, who has worked at Vita Cortex for 10 years, recently secured a mortgage with her partner.

“The redundancy payment would have covered it for a few months but now we don’t have that. I’m very disappointed and upset that they are just leaving us here,” said Aimee.

Truck driver Cal O’Leary from Fairhill in Cork has over 40 years’ service but insisted workers will stay for “as long as it takes”.

“We’re not looking forward to Christmas at the moment. I have family, I’m missing being at home and miss being out shopping with my wife and my grandchildren,” he said.

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