Vita staff to get statutory payment next week

The former Vita Cortex workers have been told they will receive their statutory redundancy entitlements from the Department of Social Protection early next week — but their protest at the manufacturing plant in Cork will go on.

The workers’ union, Siptu, said it had been told by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton the payment of two weeks’ wages per year of service would be made to the staff next Monday.

However, the board and management of Vita Cortex say they will not be paying the 0.9% ex gratia payment demanded by their former employees on top of the statutory redundancy.

The company has pointed out that, as it was unable to pay the statutory redundancy, “it was clearly not in a position to make any commitment to pay an ex gratia payment”.

It said Siptu itself had acknowledged the company was not in a position to make the statutory redundancy payments.

Siptu said it appreciated the efforts made by Joan Burton to make the payments to the workers by the State.

The union’s organiser, Anne Egar, said the company had never told the union it would not be paying the ex gratia money.

Ms Egar said the union had records of meetings which detailed the management’s offer of an agreed redundancy package of 2.9 weeks in total — the amount paid to employees previously made redundant.

She said the union had the records of the company’s explanation of its discussions with Nama, which it said it was hoping could release the €1.2m required to meet the agreed package of 2.9 weeks per year for each employee.

“It is clear to us and to the wider public that has supported the Vita workers through almost 50 days of a difficult occupation that this employer is determined to walk away from his responsibilities despite the substantial assets he controls outside of Nama and to distort the facts of the case.

“This protest will continue until he treats his long- serving employees with dignity and respect and pays what he owes them.”

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