Taxpayers foot €100m redundancy bill

THE cost to taxpayers triggered by companies refusing or unable to pay money owed to redundant workers has tripled in two years to nearly €100 million.

The huge rise again focused attention on the Vita Cortex dispute as sacked workers demonstrated outside the Dáil with hundreds of supporters.

Figures obtained by Cork TD Ciarán Lynch from the Social Protection Department reveal the financial burden being put on the state by firms not carrying out their redundancy arrangements.

Provisional figures for 2011 show that redundancy claims for 49,766 workers were received by the department, with €312.7m handed out in redundancy payments.

The Government says the lump sum redundancy payments given by the department are the best indicators of how many companies are refusing or unable to keep financial commitments to their former workers.

This figure has soared from €31.91m in 2008 to €96.77m in 2010, the last year for which figures are available.

In the same period, rebate payments from the department, which add on to a company’s contributions, climbed from €161m to €373m, and total expenditure by the state went from €193m to €470m.

Mr Lynch said the cost to taxpayers left by firms refusing to pay workers was “alarming” and needed to be investigated.

Deputies from all sides of the Dáil gave their backing to the 32 sacked Vita Cortex workers seeking redundancy payments from the firm, including Social Protection Minister Joan Burton

However, Ms Burton refused to back claims made in the Dáil by Labour and Fine Gael TDs that the firm’s boss Jack Ronan had engaged in “skullduggery” and that the company’s workers had been “exploited.”

Bus loads of sacked workers and their backers travelled from Cork for the protest and were joined at Leinster House by supporters, which brought the numbers to around 400.

La Senza dispute

LA SENZA workers will find out today if administrator KPMG is willing to accept their claim for adequate redundancy as well as pay for work and overtime accrued over Christmas.

Workers last night engaged in their fourth night of a sit-in at Dublin’s Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

KPMG in Britain, which is considering their demands, told the union Mandate it will give a response today. One source said they were “slightly” optimistic the demands would be met.

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