5,000 march in support of Vita Cortex workers

Up to 5,000 people attended a march organised in support of Vita Cortex workers over the weekend in one of the biggest public demonstrations Cork city has seen in recent years.

The Vita Cortex workers are entering their third month occupying their former workplace in Ballyphehane on the southside of Cork city.

The workers of Vita Cortex were promised 0.9% of a week per year of service, ex gratia by the owners of Vita Cortex when the foam factory closed in December.

The State has stepped in to pay statutory entitlements but the company has claimed inability to pay a total of another €372,000.

Addressing the rally on Saturday, SIPTU organiser Anne Egar said the Vita Cortex workers had shown “stamina and principle” in pursuing their fight for redundancy payments.

She said that Vita Cortex owner Jack Ronan should “pay his bills and not expect everyone else to pick up his tab”.

Ms Egar said the workers’ “dignity has been an example to everyone around the country”.

Vita Cortex worker Martina Anderson, told the crowd the fight to secure their agreed redundancy payments had been hard on staff and their families but they were determined to have a positive outcome.

SIPTU general secretary, Joe O’Flynn, pledged the union’s support for the workers and said all was being done to bring a just conclusion to the dispute.

Meanwhile, president of SIPTU Jack O’Connor said the company involved has it within its means to end the employees ordeal and pay the 0.9% of a week per year of service which was agreed previously and upheld by the Labour Relations Commission.

The march got underway at 1.30pm on Saturday from Connolly Hall in Cork city. The crowd was addressed by Cork Council of Trade Unions representatives Pat Guilfoyle and Ann Piggott and former plant workers.

Marchers included local Le Senza workers who were engaged in a similar dispute, representatives of the INTO, the INWO, TEEU, Impact and SIPTU, friends and family of the employees and the public.

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