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.