Vita boss pushed on Nama sit-in resolution

Siptu last night called on Vita Cortex boss Jack Ronan to respond to reports that Nama has offered him a way of ending the 111-day sit-in by his former workers in Cork.

Nama has indicated that if Mr Ronan delivers a new, unencumbered asset to it, it will make funds available to be ringfenced for ex-gratia payments for the former foam factory workers, who lost their jobs on Dec 16.

The union’s manufacturing division organiser, Gerry McCormack, said he believes Mr Ronan has been aware of the reported Nama offer for a number of weeks.

“But, as of last night, he has not indicated that he is prepared to enter into the process proposed by the Labour Relations Commission,” said Mr McCormack.

“This is despite his public statements that he was willing to enter into meaningful negotiations with the workers representatives.”

The workers agreed to take part in the LRC mediation process over a week ago. But, frustrated by the lack of engagement by their former employer, the workers locked the gates to the factory complex last Friday.

This action prevented trucks from making deliveries and collections to the Vita Clean sister company, based next to the former foam factory on the Old Kinsale Road.

The workers decided to unlock the gates yesterday. “It is hoped that this gesture of goodwill will be acknowledged by the company owners, and that they will reciprocate by agreeing to enter a meaningful mediation process without further delay,” said a spokesman for the workers’ online campaign.

Last night, Siptu urged Mr Ronan to engage in the LRC process.

“It is firmly within Mr Ronan’s grasp to resolve this dispute, as he has been given the means to pay what he owes to these workers,” said Mr McCormack.

The workers have been paid their statutory redundancy pay and are maintaining the sit-in in pursuit of the 0.9 weeks per year of service ex-gratia payment they claim they were promised by management.

The total value of those payments is in the region of €372,000.

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