Vita Cortex workers end protest in triumph

After their marathon sit-in, former Vita Cortex workers could barely contain their excitement that the dispute was finally over and they could look forward to going home.

Many hugged as they emerged from the meeting room in the Gresham Metropole Hotel after last night’s staff meeting.

Sean Kelleher worked at the Kinsale Rd plant for 47 years. He would have served 48 years if he had still been employed in January.

“139 days was a long time,” he said last night, minutes after the 23 workers voted to accept the terms agreed between their union and Vita Cortex owner Jack Ronan.

“I’m just thrilled. We had our ups and downs. We just had to get going again when we were on a downer, recover, and plan again for the future and get it going. Thanks be to God it has worked out.”

He said the unity the workers had shown was key. “People stood together. It is very hard to maintain the structure of people, to keep them all bound together. You could not break the unity of these people. That was the main thing. Also, we had the union behind us.”

Now, with it looking likely that the sit-in will be over within a fortnight, Mr Kelleher is looking ahead. “I’ll get away and take my wife away. She has been behind us and behind me. My whole family have been behind me,” he said.

Helen Crowley worked for Vita Cortex for 26 years. “I just feel so emotional and relieved now,” she said last night. “We never thought it would come to this when we started. We just went for it. I had a good feeling about today, that it would finally be over. I buried myself in it really, doing the night shifts. Every day we were hoping it was going to be over but I could not have walked away. I think everyone else was the same way.”

After 43 years’ service, Tim Burke is looking forward to the big get-together, which, he says, the workers should have had five months ago when they downed tools on Dec 16.

“It was a hard struggle, but we have proved sticking together means an awful lot. The 23 of us stuck together through cold nights and mornings. We will be thrilled and delighted to be out of there. We just have to wait for the money to come through and then we’ll have the big get-together we were supposed to have on Dec 16.”

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