Vita protesters block sister company

Frustrated ex-workers involved in a sit-in at the Vita Cortex plant have escalated their protest by blocking access to the factory site and preventing the removal of goods by sister company Vita Clean.

Today marks the 107th day of the sit-in over redundancy pay at the closed foam packaging plant on the Kinsale Road in Cork.

Vita Clean, which supplies chemical-free cleaning solutions, had stayed in operation at the Kinsale road site since the sit-in began.

Yesterday, former staff at Vita Cortex made contact with the manager at Vita Clean prior to a planned collection of stock, informing him access to the site would not be allowed.

A gate at the Pearse Road entrance to the site was locked at about 10am.

There were no Vita Clean employees on site yesterday but there are usually between four and eight staff working there daily.

Former truck driver Cal O’Leary, who worked at Vita Cortex for 40 years, said workers were frustrated at the lack of progress.

“We haven’t come near to a resolution yet. We had a meeting last night and we decided to escalate it.

“As from now on, there is nothing coming in or going out of the yard,” he said.

The workers are seeking redundancy pay of 0.9 weeks per year of service, on top of statutory entitlements. They received their entitlements of two weeks per year of service from the Department of Social Protection several weeks ago.

Last week, employees and management accepted an invitation from the Labour Relations Commission to engage in a mediation process and talks are ongoing.

Meanwhile, world champion boxer Katie Taylor was the latest high-profile figure to show support for the workers. The Olympic hopeful, in Cork yesterday for a fight against US rival Liz Teddy, met some of the workers, who were given match tickets.

In a separate dispute, former employees of retailer Game were last night continuing sit-ins at shops in a redundancy pay protest.

Staff in Limerick, Dublin, Cork, Athlone and Monaghan began their protest after the firm went into administration on Monday, closing 277 shops in Britain and Ireland, including all of those in the State, with the loss of 121 jobs here.

Former district development manager at Game in Cork’s Mahon Point shopping centre, James Daly said workers had been told to apply for redundancy payments from the State but wanted the full redundancy pay from the company.

“We feel they shouldn’t just be able to pack up and leave and we become a burden on the State. The company is still trading in the UK. We were told we would have to wait between six and 18 months for any redundancy payments from the State to come through.”

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