Micheál Martin Urges Vita Cortex Owner To Meet Workers

The Vita Cortex workers struggle for justice is continuing to gather support as they prepare to travel to Dublin to take part in a lunchtime protest outside Dáil Eireann on Thursday, 12th January, at 1.00pm.

On Monday, 9th January, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin visited the 32 workers to offer his backing on Day 25 of their sit-in at the Vita Cortex plant on the Kinsale Road, Cork.

"The responsibility for ensuring the former employees get their redundancy package lies with the owners of the company. The redundancy package they are looking for is very modest and there must be a resolution to this. I am calling on the owners to meet the workers as a matter of urgency," Micheál Martin said.

"SIPTU has examined the Vita Cortex companies and has indicated to me that the owners have the capacity to pay the redundancies. The capability of the owners to pay the redundancy must involve looking at the money available outside this company to their other businesses," he added.

Among more than 27 companies that Vita Cortex owner, Jack Ronan, is listed as being currently, or recently, a director is The Print Works Ltd, Renard Pig Farms and Web Circle Ltd.

Ronan and the two other directors of Print Works Ltd, Anthony and Melanie Murphy, received annual rental income from the company, which is based close to Vita Cortex on the Kinsale Road.

Enterprise Ireland acquired €54,400 of shares in The Print Works Ltd in 2003. The shares were due to be redeemed in December 2008 but are still held by the State agency.

The latest set of publicly available abridged accounts for Vita Cortex (Ind), the business which directly employs the 32 workers involved in the sit-in, shows that the company made a profit of €366,000 during the 16 months to the end of April 2010.

The accounts also show that the company was owed €1.6 million by its debtors at the time, including €712,000 due from Web Circle Ltd – a company of which Ronan was a director and his family owned a sizable share – for ‘management charges’.

Ronan’s other business interests include a Tipperary based bloodstock company, PIC Ireland Ltd (which assists in the genetic improvement of pigs) and a 50% share in two crèches in Cork and Arklow. He is also the owner of a 300 acre stud farm and won the Irish Field ‘Breeder of the Year’ last August for a racehorse called Cape Blanco.

Thursday’s protest in support of the Vita Cortex workers outside Dáil Eireann is organised by the SIPTU Manufacturing Division and supported by other trade unions including the TEEU and Unite.

The Vita Cortex workers are seeking payment of an agreed redundancy package of 2.9 weeks per year of service. The full amount needed to fund the redundancies is just over €1.2 million and because the plant’s closure pre-dates the last budget the State will pay 60% of that amount.


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