Taoiseach Enda Kenny strongly indicated today that the protesting Vita Cortex workers in Cork should get their full redundancy of 2.9 weeks’ wages per year of service.
Speaking in the Dáil this morning, Mr Kenny said that he intended to personally give a report to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) on the issue, and he would ask the LRC to step in again to try to resolve the dispute.
He said the Director of Corporate Enforcement had already been asked to examine the Vita Cortex position.
However, he said the director found insufficient grounds to take a formal action against the company.
Mr Kenny described the workers as very decent people who just wanted fairness.
He said they simply wanted to be given the same redundancy that previous employees of Vita Cortex received — 2.9 weeks’ pay per year of service.
The issue was raised by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said the treatment of the workers was unacceptable.
The Taoiseach said the dispute raised “lots of questions about moral responsibility”.
He said: “The workers want to be shown respect and fairness. All other workers received 2.9 weeks.
“I believe we should exhaust all the machinery we have available to us. It is not nice to have workers sitting in a factory.”
The former foam manufacturing staff are now on day 55 of a sit-in protest at the Kinsale Road plant.
Mr Kenny met with four workers and their SIPTU representative, Anne Egar, in Cork last Friday.
The Taoiseach pointed out that staff had facilitated the removal of machinery from the factory in December on the understanding that they would be given a fair deal.
“There is a moral responsibility here,” he added.
He also noted that the company was now threatening legal action to have the workers removed from the factory.
“I’d like to see this resolved. I found the workers to be understanding.
“They have a really deep feeling that they deserve respect from their employer after some of them have given up to 47 years service,” added Mr Kenny.