January 2012

The Dublin Council of Trade Unions has circulated the following letter to its delegates and affiliated trade unions:

19th January, 2012.

To each DCTU delegate,  General Secretary or Senior Official

Dear Colleague,

A portion of the unsecured debt amounting to €1.25 billion will be handed over to ANGLO IRISH/IBRC bank on Wednesday 25th January 2012.  How much budget pain could this sum solve?

This event should not pass withuout a protest.

A group called Occupy Anglo/IBRC, a loose offshoot of Occupy Dame Street are organising such a protest.


This will be a peaceful protest outside the bank and will include talks, teach-ins and music.

We urge all members to participate at some point during these three days.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Nolan

Correspondence Secretary

Letter ends

[Facebook page of Carnival organiser: http://www.facebook.com/events/280892235299369/]

[Supported by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.]

From the organisers’ facebook page:

( http://www.facebook.com/events/280892235299369/ )

You are cordially invited to the ‘Carnival of Resistance’ which runs from January 23rd to 25th. This event will take place at the former Anglo Irish Bank HQ on Stephens Green, and is designed to highlight the payment of E1.25 billion to the unsecured bondholders, of said bank.

The event has been organized by a collection of groups and individuals opposed to the payment, by Irish tax-payers, of debts owed by private banking corporations.

It is being supported by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, who have called for a united front of all those opposed to the payment of these bonds.

The bondholders took a risk in investing in Anglo and their investment backfired, this is a private matter between the bank and its investors. It has nothing to do with the Irish people as such. We see no reason why we should cover these losses.

Over the course of the 3 days there will be live music with performances by (among others) The Barley Mob, members of Kila and the Fibbs.

Occupy University will be hosting a series of lectures over the course of the 3 days at 1.30 and 5.30. Among those speaking are John Bissett, Conor McCabe and Michael Taft.

* This is a family-friendly protest and we encourage members of the public to bring their children and enjoy the Carnival atmosphere.

Spectacle Defiance Drummers-

Happy City Samba-

Street Fest


Line up:


Jesse Rodriguez


The Velvetones –



John Bissett

DJ Mark Q


The Mistaken Dreams-


Kila’s Eoin Dillon-


Twin Headed Wolf-




Elk –


Platonic Sex Act-


Teepee sessions with

Peter Pureheart-




Jambo and Jonny Boy-





Mick O’ Reilly


The Animators-

2- 3pm

DJ Guilty Boy


The McVeigh Sisters –


Rufus Coates & the Blackened Trees-


Jupiter & The Infinite –


Conor McCabe


King Modo-


Rise of the Hippies-


The Fibbs –


Teepee sessions with

Peter Pureheart –

G Star






Explosions on the Runway


Michael Taft


Barry Krishna –


Trap Door-


Garry O’Brien –





Siohhan O’Donohue


General assembly

7- 8pm

The BaRLey Mob –


New Secret Weapon-


Teepee sessions with

Twin Headed Wolf-


Helen Keller Experience

Twas the SIPTU Manufacturing Division which organised the protest rally outside the Dáil on 12th January. The following statement was issued in preparation for it. It’s worth putting up and still very relevant. The last sentence from Gerry McCormack is particularly good: “Failure to win this struggle will amount to a massive defeat for all those fighting against the race to the bottom; it will not be allowed happen.”

See also the third paragraph which explains how directly this closure and occupation is connected to the bank lending and property bubble.

SIPTU Manufacturing Division is organising a protest rally outside Dáil Eireann on Thursday (12th January) at 1.00 p.m. in support of the Vita Cortex workers who have been staging a sit-in at the company’s plant in Cork for over three weeks as part of a campaign to secure their redundancy entitlements.

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Gerry McCormack, said; “The Vita Cortex workers have shown enormous courage in making the stance they made.  They are tolerating appalling conditions in terms of sleeping on foam on the ground at night, in what might be described as a large shed, and are fully determined to stay until this employer engages in a meaningful way to resolve this issue.”

“The new owners of the company borrowed millions of euro from AIB to buy out previous shareholders and used the company assets as collateral against those loans.  They gambled with our members’ jobs and livelihoods to gain control over a valuable site in Cork.”

Gerry McCormack added; “The Vita Cortex workers securing their rightful redundancy entitlements is a cause which should be supported by all trade unionists and those who believe in the just and fair settlement of industrial disputes. Failure to win this struggle will amount to a massive defeat for all those fighting against the race to the bottom; it will not be allowed happen.”

source siptu.ie

SIPTU Press Release:

Renowned human rights activist

Noam Chomsky backs

Vita Cortex workers

Date Released: 20 January 2012 cf. http://www.siptu.ie/

As talks aimed at bringing a just resolution to the Vita Cortex dispute resume today (20th January) the 32 workers maintaining a sit-in for five weeks at the company’s plant on the Kinsale Road, Cork, received the backing of veteran US human rights campaigner Noam Chomsky.

In his email of Thursday (19th January), addressed “to the workers of Vita Cortex, Cork, Ireland”, the renowned author and activist said; “I have just learned of your struggle and occupation, and your determination to carry on in the face of suffering and repression – and the unconscionable failure of the state to act on its responsibilities to you and other working people, symptomatic of all too much that is happening around the world today.”

The email concludes; “I hope that your courageous and honourable actions will be a model that will inspire others as well to act instead of succumbing passively, and wish you the greatest success in this just and crucial campaign for basic rights.”

Noam Chomsky’s pledge of support follows similar expressions of solidarity from former President Mary Robinson and singer Christy Moore for the Vita Cortex workers campaign to secure their agreed redundancy terms.

SIPTU Organiser, Anne Egar, said; “Receiving backing for the workers’ campaign from such an internationally respected figure as Noam Chomsky is staggering. It clearly highlights the massively important issues that are at stake in this dispute concerning workers’ rights and the failure of employers to live up to their responsibilities.”

Formal talks aimed at bringing a resolution to the dispute will resume at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) at 12.30 a.m. in the Carrigaline Court Hotel, Cork.

The talks adjourned on Tuesday (16th January) following an initial meeting where SIPTU and Vita Cortex representatives remained in separate rooms.

Before entering the talks SIPTU Manufacturing Organiser, Gerry McCormack, said; “It is hoped that today’s meeting will be constructive. The ability to bring a just resolution to this dispute lies with the owner of Vita Cortex, Jack Ronan, and it must be hoped that he does all in his power to meet his responsibilities to his former employees.”

Vincent Browne joined the big media pack at the SIPTU protest in support of the Vita Cortex workers at the Dáil on Thursday 12th January. His ‘Tonight’ show on TV3 that evening focused specifically on the plight of the Vita Cortex and La Senza workers. If you missed that show, here’s the link:


Distributed at the SIPTU Vita Cortex protest, Dáil Eireann, Thursday 12th January 2012

TEXT of leaflet:


The slogan outside the Vita Cortex factory says it all: €2.5 million for three company directors. No redundancy pay for 32 workers with 847 years service.

Vita Cortex is a company that was asset stripped by its owner Jack Ronan. He is involved in a web of of companies and has claimed that money for the redundancy should come from one that is controlled by NAMA. For their part NAMA disagrees. meanwhile workers, who have put in 40 years service in some cases, had to occupy over Christmas just to get basic redundancy payments.

The workers initial demand was for 2.9 weeks redundancy pay for every year’s service. That modest sum was the going rate throughout the Vita Cortex group. But the company wants to treat workers like disposable hankies and just throw them out the door.

Ronan is trying to move production to Athlone to boost his profits. Despite all the talk of everyone pulling together to ‘help the country’, he has no interest in the welfare of his workers.

Worse, he is now trying to manoeuvre a situation where the government picks up the tab for the redundancy payments through the Social Insurance Fund. As the recession grows other employers are likely to follow this pattern while leaving their workers waiting for up to a year for payment.

Yes another basic ‘threshold of decency’ has been crossed as the employers seek to take back every right the workers have won in the past.

Occupation: an example to follow

The Vita Cortex workers have become a powerful symbol for how workers are treated in Ireland in 2012. the United Left Alliance commend them on the brave stance they have taken.

We urge other workers to start following their example. This has already started to happen as workers are also in occupation of an unemployed centre in Cork and have taken over the La Senza shop in the Liffey Valley retail park in Dublin.

the employers need to get the message: workers will not be walked upon and if they try to tear up our rights , their property will be seized.

The main issue now is t0 carry through the struggle to ensure victory to the Cork workers.

  • The Government TDs who claim to support the workers must move beyond talk to action. Ronan should be told that if he does not pay off his debts to workers, more of his companies will be taken  by the state. Fir the past three years, both the FF-Green government and the FG-Labour government have jumped to the tune of the bankers. Now workers are demanding support.
  • SIPTU should carry through on its promise to call national solidarity action. Its members in the Vita Cortex plant in Athlone should be asked to boycott any worked transferred from Cork. And there should be a national solidarity stoppage to restrict the ability of employers to make workers redundant just to boos their profits and to ensure that they pay out fully if they can prove that have no other option.
  • The government should provide support for alternative jobs for those who wish to stay in employment. if bankers can take €70 billion of the Irish state, then workers must also get support to protect their livelihoods.

Issued by United Left Alliance

For further information contact Mick Barry on 087 2052722 or Vanessa O’Sullivan on 087 1476982

SIPTU President Jack O’Connor visits the Vita Cortex workers occupying the company’s plant on the Kinsale Road, Cork, on the 24th December 2011

(Ho! Ho! Ho!) I’m very glad to say that this wee vid was hurredly edited by some of my colleagues at Dublin Community Television. In their spare time of course.

The Vita Cortex workers struggle continues, for more information visit siptu.ie

Irish Times 10th January 2012:

Union members urged to attend rally in solidarity with Vita Cortex workers


1 pm Thursday 12th at the Dáil


Vita Cortex says “the negative publicity generated by the protest has led to the loss of customers” (Irish Times, 5th November, ‘Vita Cortex may shed more jobs’, cf. link above). ‘Vita Cortex said the ongoing dispute at its plant on the Kinsale Road in Cork may eventually result in further job losses. Vita Cortex currently employs 60 staff in Cork, Athlone and Belfast.’  Vita Cortex said, “We are fearful that the company and its remaining workforce may now become the victims of misperception and misinformation resulting in a basic failure to accept the reality of the company’s financial situation.”

Here is a company trading in three locations which maintains it does not have the funds (a total of €1.2 million according to the Kinsale Road workers) to pay the workers in a fourth location the basic compensation (most of it reclaimable) for closing down their jobs. The company is seeking to use the remaining  jobs to scare the public, the remaining workers and the occupying workers into abandoning the Kinsale Road factory. The currency given to this scare by the media (here at the Irish Times and in RTE  bulletins – not the fact that it’s reported but the dramatic manner in which it’s reported)  helps the scare along.

But it also highlights that there are still twice the amount of workers still working for the company as are engaged in a tough struggle for basic entitlements. Its business as usual for the rest of Vita Cortex it seems. Are the workers in Belfast, Athlone and… Cork unionised? It highlights that Vita Cortex is running three operations while not having the wherewithal, it says, to pay redundancy money. It should also highlight to the remaining workers that they could be in line for the same treatment if indeed ‘Vita Cortex may shed more jobs’. That they would be better advised finding ways of using their industrial muscle, while still needed to produce for Vita Cortex, to assist the Cork 32 rather than be led to believe that they could guarantee their jobs if the Cork 32 should give up and take €0.

But anyway how could the Cork occupation affect the business elsewhere – unless the trade union movement spreads the action there? Perhaps the customers of Vita Cortex will be overcome by feelings of solidarity for the Cork 32 and boycott Vita Cortex products? More likely to affect these customers and more so the suppliers is the information that has come out about the lack of funds and, especially, the unpaid loans taken out in the boom and now transferred by the bank to NAMA. “Ongoing negative publicity” indeed.

As for “misperception and misinformation” we heard on The Late Late Show last night from the workers’ impressive main spokesperson (with 42 years service!!) that a short time before the closure the workers had been asked by the company to furnish their bank account details for the purposes of lodging redundancy payments. Payments for which Vita Cortex now claim there is no money.

Incidentally, it should not be lost how the state is a player. The public sector cuts have no doubt added to the outrageous delays in paying out entitlements to redundant workers. Where’s the media outrage that accompanied the delays in processing passports? Where private firms fail to compensate for redundancy there is the statutory backup. Weeks and months of delay takes away this relief and places redundant workers into the situation the Vita Cortex workers find themselves. The total workers’ demand is only a modest 0.9 week’s pay per year of service above statutory redundancy.

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