ON THE 99TH day of protests, workers at Vita Cortex have accepted a Labour Relations Commission proposal for both sides to enter a mediation process.
The Director of Conciliation Services at the LRC, Kevin Foley, has asked both parties in the dispute to engage in “meaningful negotiations”.
In a letter sent to both the 32 workers’ union Siptu and the employer’s representative Ibec, Foley said, “Whilst the stated position of the parties seems intractable, bot parties have stated publicly that they are committed to exploring all meaningful efforts to resolve the dispute.”
I therefore believe that further meaningful engagement can take place at this time through a process of mediation to be put in place which would attempt to find a basis for resolution of the dispute, including if necessary giving guidance as to how the dispute should be finally resolved.
Workers at the Cork plant are to mark their 100th protest day tomorrow at their sit-in at the former foam manufacturing facility on the Kinsale Road in Cork.
SIPTU Organiser Anne Egar said, “If this proposal from the LRC is accepted by the owners of Vita Cortex it could be the first stage in a process that can lead to the resolution of this long running dispute. If the public statements by the owners of Vita Cortex calling for meaningful negotiations are to be credible then a just resolution to the dispute is achievable and these brave workers can finally return to their homes and families.”
However, she warned that workers are adamant that the dispute will continue until a “just resolution” is secured. They are seeking redundancy payments of 0.9 weeks per year of service, on top of their statutory entitlements – a deal they say is equivalent to payments made to workers who left the company in 2009 and 2010.
The workers have received pledges of support from a number of public figures including Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, former Irish international footballer Paul McGrath, actor Cillian Murphy and scholar Noam Chomsky.
Earlier this week, Chomskey reiterated his support “for the struggle” in an online message “for everyone who looks forward for a better world”.