Vita Cortex resolution talks to resume Friday

TALKS aimed at ending a month-long sit-in by the Vita Cortex workers in Cork will resume on Friday after they finished last night without a resolution.

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) spent almost seven hours locked in conciliation talks with the workers and the company, who were in separate meeting rooms at the Carrigaline Court Hotel.

The state’s top industrial relations trouble-shooters, LRC chief executive Kieran Mulvey and director of conciliation Kevin Foley, declined to comment afterwards on the details of the discussions.

Mr Mulvey said several issues had been explored and there had been considerable confidential engagement.

He welcomed the decision by both sides to re-engage with the LRC. “This was an initial engagement,” he said. “Normally it takes two to three conciliation conferences in the context of disputes we’re involved in.

“It takes time. It takes effort. It takes contact and understanding, and trying to explore options with them that they may not have considered themselves.

“We’ll be back in Cork in 48 hours and we’ll have to see what emerges.”

Speaking afterwards, Siptu’s Anne Eager said she is happy that the LRC fully understands the workers’ position. She said the negotiating team would outline to the workers still engaged in the sit-in what took place during the talks, and what will happen over the next 48 hours.

Some 32 workers have been occupying the Vita Cortex plant on the Kinsale Road for over a month in pursuit of proper redundancy pay. The company claims it can not pay because Nama has frozen funds in a sister company.

The workers were represented at the talks by Sean Kelleher, Cal O’Leary, and Amy Collins, as well as Ms Eager and her union colleague, divisional organiser Gerry McCormack.

The company was represented by managing director Ian Kirby and an IBEC official. Company owner Jack Ronan did not attend.

Mr Mulvey said: “We don’t decide who should be at negotiations and I’m sure he’s being fully appraised.”

Mr Foley said it was not up to the LRC to comment on the make-up of the negotiating teams.

Speaking earlier, Mr Mulvey said while this dispute is unusual, he said there was “nothing new under the sun. The LRC has a good track record.”

The sit-in, which enters its 34th day today, continues.

Ms Eager said the workers’ spirits are continually lifted by the generosity and support of the people of Cork.

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