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LRC invites parties to talks on Vita Cortex dispute

The Labour Relations Commission invites both sides in the Vita Cortex dispute to attend talks on ending a four-week sit-in.

A screen grab from Vita Cortex's website, showing the manufacture of foam products at the Kinsale Road plant in Cork.
A screen grab from Vita Cortex's website, showing the manufacture of foam products at the Kinsale Road plant in Cork.

THE LABOUR RELATIONS COMMITTEE has invited both sides in the Vita Cortex dispute to attend talks next week clarifying the facts of their dispute and to investigate whether the dispute can be ended.

Jobs minister Richard Bruton confirmed this afternoon that the LRC was willing to meet both staff and management at the foam manufacturing plant at a veune in Cork next Tuesday.

Bruton said his officials had been in “continuous contact” with the workers’ union representatives over the holiday period to try and clarify the issues involved.

In a separate statement, SIPTU – which represents the workers at the plant – said it had agreed to attend the “exploratory talks”, but would continue with a solidarity rally at Leinster House regardless.

The continuing dispute – which has seen employees at the company stage a sit-in at its Kinsale Road factory – was raised in the Dáil this afternoon by TDs from all three main parties representing the Cork South-Central constituency, where the plant is based.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Fine Gael backbencher Jerry Buttimer and Labour’s Ciaran Lynch all urged the government to stand behind the workers in their requests to seek 2.9 per weeks’ redundancy pay for each year they had worked there.

Lynch expressed particular concern that the financial circumstances of the Vita Cortex case – where the company was owed significant amounts by other companies with the same owner – could be replicated by others trying to escape their legal obligations.

Junior minister Seán Sherlock, in response, described the €1,500 offer made to employees over Christmas as “a paltry sum” and said the workers were right to reject that offer.

Sherlock urged both parties to take up the invitation for talks next week and “to engage constructively in the process”.

He added that Vita Cortex had been a recipient of state funding in the past, and said the government should work to ensure it could “shine a light” on such companies in whatever way it could.

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Gavan Reilly

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