Vita Cortex and Nama in talks to secure funds

CRUCIAL talks are taking place between Vita Cortex joint owner Jack Ronan and the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

The discussions may see 32 workers, who have been engaged in a sit-in at the foam packaging plant for five weeks, paid the non-statutory part of the redundancy money owed to them.

The workers want 2.9 weeks’ pay per year of service and have vowed to continue their sit-in until they receive the payments.

The dispute is now over the non-statutory payment of 0.9 of a weeks’ pay per year of service. This follows the company’s application to the Department of Social Protection for statutory redundancy payments for the workers, claiming inability to pay.

All eligible employees are entitled to two weeks’ pay per year of service and one further weeks’ pay.

However, the amount of statutory redundancy is subject to a maximum earnings limit of €600 per week (€31,200 per year) which means, depending on the average salary levels, the overall cost of the non-statutory element could be far greater than the €400,000 calculated.

Nama has indicated it would be in a position to release the non-statutory redundancy money if Mr Ronan is willing to give them control over an asset of the same value.

The workers have maintained from the outset that Ronan had the capacity to pay the €1.2 million redundancy package and claimed funds should be taken from an account in a sister company to pay their redundancy entitlements.

The account was pledged to Allied Irish Banks as security for a loan of over €8m, which is now in Nama. Nama has said it has no liability to release those funds.

Talks between workers and management at the Labour Relations Commission in Cork were continuing last night.

A spokesman for Vita Cortex has confirmed Mr Ronan was engaging with Nama to secure funding for redundancy payments.

Meanwhile, Veteran US human rights campaigner Noam Chomsky has sent an email backing the staff.

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