Labour members should support the Vita Cortex protest

17th March, 2012 4:16 pm

While St. Patrick’s Day may be a time of celebration it also offers an opportunity to highlight a factory sit-in taking place in the Republic of Ireland that is now just over three months old. It is a sorry story of good people being denied redundancy payments. The dignity the protesters have shown throughout their sit-in should serve as an inspiration to those whose employment rights are under threat.

The protest began in the Vita Cortex factory in Cork in the run up to Christmas last year. On December 16th the 32 employees of the plant were informed that they were to be made redundant with immediate effect but without any redundancy payments. This was particularly shocking given the commitment they had shown to the company. Between them they had worked at the plant, which produces foam products for furniture, for a total of 847 years, some of the longest serving had been there for over 40 years.

Since then the former workers have been present in the factory continuously – including on what must have been a particularly heartrending Christmas Day. They have promised not to leave until they are given the full payments due to them. The conditions are tough. They sleep in a cold drafty factory. Mice can often be heard scuttling across the factory floor. However, the tedium and monotony of their time at the plant has been broken by the massive swell of support for the campaign.

The former workers have received messages of support from figures such as Mary Robinson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Christy Moore, Cillian Murphy and Paul McGrath. Indeed, it was McGrath who captured the essence of the situation when he said: “I thought Ireland was better than this”. In February, 5000 people took to the streets of Cork in support of the sit-in.

Recently the Irish Labour Party’s leader, Eamon Gilmore, also Ireland’s Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and foreign minister, met a delegation of former workers and promised to do what he could to help. He also recognised that three months of living on a factory floor was taking its toll on the workers, 90% of whom are between 50 and 65 years old. Although the government has paid some money to those made redundant it is not the amount they should have received from Vita Cortex which has recently paid out €2.5 million to three shareholders.

The former workers’ cause is just and important. This is not only because of the appalling behaviour of their former employers. There are wider issues at stake. Some unscrupulous companies in Ireland will be watching closely how this stand-off will be resolved to see how far they can go in their dealings with employees. Labour Party members in the UK should take note because we need to be vigilant about the erosion of workers’ rights both home and abroad. It is a trend that Unite has described as a growing tendency for workers to be ‘left in the cold’ after they have been made redundant. In light of this the Labour Party Irish Society unanimously voted in favour of a motion in support of the former workers’ protest.

The Vita Cortex workers did not ask for this but they are at the front line of a battle to protect workers’ rights. I urge those who believe that employment rights need to be protected to do what they can to help the campaign.

For more information on how you can support their campaign please visit the Vita Cortex workers’ website – http://vitacortexworkers.wordpress.com/how-you-can-support-the-protest/

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]

Latest

  • Local Government News Scotland Weekly survey: Elections 2016

    Weekly survey: Elections 2016

    Labour faces its first major electoral test under Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday – and we want to know how you expect Labour to perform. Scottish Labour has been polling behind the SNP for several years. Will Kezia Dugdale’s team win enough seats to avoid coming third behind the Conservatives? Labour needs at least 30 seats in Wales to maintain a majority. However, with the rise of UKIP and threats from Plaid Cymru some think they will only be able to achieve a minority […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Local Government Uncategorized Police and crime commissioners can cut crime – so let’s overcome the apathy

    Police and crime commissioners can cut crime – so let’s overcome the apathy

    Following selection as the Labour candidate for police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall in February 2016 I have campaigned across this vast constituency of 1.3 million voters and the most common response I have received is “Election? What election?”. It is utterly shocking that the Government has failed to promote the Commissioner’s post and, most importantly, the elections taking place across England and Wales on Thursday. After introducing the post following their 2010 manifesto pledge anyone would think the Conservatives – and Theresa May […]

    Read more →
  • Europe News New Labour figures throw weight behind In campaign

    New Labour figures throw weight behind In campaign

    Major New Labour figures are throwing their weight behind the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, with a series of major interventions – including a possible return for Tony Blair. Former Chancellor Alistair Darling has warned that a vote to leave the EU could cost the UK £250 billion in lost trade, while Peter Mandelson has hit out at the anti-immigration rhetoric of the Out campaign. Darling said that pulling out of the single market would introduce greater trade […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Campaign round-up: Two days to go

    Campaign round-up: Two days to go

    It’s two days until voters go to the polls – here’s a quick look at how the elections are shaping up across the country. Quote of the Day “Only a Tory Government with as warped a sense of priorities as this one could issue a statement lauding the roll-out [of Universal Credit] on the same day an independent expert report from the Resolution Foundation shows Tory cuts will completely undermine work incentives in the programme.” – Owen Smith, on the warped […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Local Government News Corbyn: We will not lose any seats

    Corbyn: We will not lose any seats

    Jeremy Corbyn has issued a defiant message to his internal critics as he vowed Labour would defy predictions and not lose any seats on Thursday. The under-fire Labour leader confirmed he would “of course” stand in any future leadership election as he told activists to look for electoral gains around the country. Corbyn was speaking in London as he unveiled a new election poster saying: “Elections are about taking sides. Labour is on yours”. “We are not going to lose […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit