In Response to Mr. Sean McHenry

While we are disappointed by the remarks made today, in the press, by Sean McHenry we are obviously not surprised. The comments are representative of the intransigent approach which the management and owners of Vita Cortex have taken towards the dispute since day one. Sadly, Mr.Henry is conveying an alarming lack of appreciation regarding the situation and an extremely skewed interpretation not only of the circumstances that led to the sit-in but also of the resultant campaign.

We would now like to address several specific points that Mr McHenry made in his statement:

1) Regarding what he describes as “blackmail designed to secure additional ex gratia payments from the personal funds of the directors.” The use of the word ‘blackmail’ is an ill thought-out use of emotive language in order to distort public perceptions of the reality and the motivations behind the Vita Cortex workers’ campaign. There has been no blackmail.  The protest has been a dignified and honourable action aimed at ensuring that Sean McHenry &Jack Ronan honour the commitments they made to the workers. We can only assume that Mr. McHenry has been unsettled by a campaign which has shone a light on his lack of will to contribute constructively and bring about a just resolution. He has left 32 workers, who served the company loyally for 847 years between them, to endure 68 days living a factory in an attempt to secure their rightful redundancies.

2) Regarding his assertion that “There is no legal entitlement to such payments and no promises were made in respect of them.” SIPTU has repeatedly stated that all discussions & negotiations, from the point in September at which the decision was taken to close the factory to Thursday on December 16th last year, were centred on 2.9 weeks per year of service. Also, 2.9 weeks was the figure communicated by management to workers when they were called together to be told of the forthcoming closure. Furthermore, it is misleading to say that “The basis for the claim is that the company paid 0.9 weeks ex gratia when it closed the Navan factory four years ago.”

In the summer of 2008, the VITA CORTEX (DUBLIN) LTD. factory closed. All the employees were paid 2.9 weeks redundancy. There were no arguments. How could there have been arguments for there were no discussions. It was just paid and that was that.

There is also the fact that between the years 2009- 2011 workers at the Cork plant, across functions such as purchasing, production and sales, all received the  accepted Vita Cortex standard redundancy payment of 2 weeks statutory and 0.9 of week a week per year of service. Mr. McHenry should have included this information in his statement is he is championing the cause of balanced reporting.

4) Regarding his claim that “Poorly informed ‘personalities’ are being lulled into lending their names and support” to this campaign. It is shocking that Mr. McHenry has chosen to insult the intellect of a world renowned theorist in the form of Noam Chomsky, a former president of Ireland and UN Rights Commissioner in Mary Robinson, one of the most successful football managers of all time, in Sir Alex Ferguson and one of Ireland’s most popular musicians – Christy Moore. Sorry, but this point is laughable and smacks of poorly advised spin. We can assure Mr. McHenry that the situational appraisal skills of all the aforementioned individuals are in tact.

5) Regarding his assertion and belief that “fair-minded people” would not support the direct action aspects of this campaign. We would disagree. The people of Cork and far beyond have backed and continue to back our stand. We have received incredible support from the public at all protests, rallies and pickets. This includes our demonstrations outside the homes of directors, at recreation clubs used by directors and enterprises connected to the commercial interests of these directors. Does Mr. McHenry believe that fair-minded people want to send a message to the business community that it is acceptable to give somebody your word and to then turn around walk away from your responsibilities and the promises that you make? Honesty and honour ought to be universal values from which business and commercialism should not be exempt. However, Mr. McHenry and Jack Ronan seem content to clutch onto their wealth at all costs and allow the tax payers to pay their debts.

6) Regarding Mr. McHenry’s reference to the payment of the workers’ statutory redundancies and in particular to the amounts involved. This is cleary a cynical attempt to dilute the support that the workers have received by throwing sums of money around without relating those figures to the duration of service. Has he forgotten that Sean Kelleher worked at Vita Cortex for 47 years – nearly half a century? Has he forgotten that Jimmy Power and Cal O’Leary both worked for over 40 years to help create the wealth which he enjoys today? It would seems that he has indeed. His statement, in this regard, was a callous effort to take advantage of the economic plight that many ordinary, Irish people are experiencing at the moment. He wants people in Cork to look at the Vita Cortex workers and think – Well they got their statutory payments but I am struggling to meet my mortgage and pay my ESB bills – thus turning people off the workers’ cause so that he and Mr.Ronan can swan off into the sunset. People of great wealth & influence have tried for generations to divide and thus conquer ordinary, working people in Ireland.  They have always failed. We see through it. The middle-class merchants of Dublin failed in 1913 and the merchant-princes of Cork & Tipperary will fail in 2012.

It would seem to us that Mr. McHenry is extremely frustrated. He is frustrated because he believed that the struggle of the Vita Cortex Workers would simply be another sad tale to be casually swept under the rug of recessionary Ireland. But he was wrong.  Thirty-two people, that he and Jack Ronan clearly felt were beneath them, have stood up in defiance of unfair treatment. Their stand has caught the imagination and fuelled the passion of the Irish public. The ordinary people of this country have stood behind the Vita Cortex workers because they see their struggle as being representative of the daily dose of oppression and dis-empowerment being meted out to them by detached politicians, reckless bosses and an inequitable political system.

We call on Sean McHenry and Jack Ronan to direct their energy into finding a fair and equitable resolution as soon as possible rather than engaging in slurs and unproductive behaviour.

Mr McHenry, the Vita Cortex story is not a work of fiction. This is a true story. Watch out for the ending, it will be a hum-dinger.

Darren O’Keeffe & Veronica Marshall

Coordinators of the Support the Vita Cortex Workers Online Campaign


10 thoughts on “In Response to Mr. Sean McHenry

  1. Beautifully written response which clarifies all points .Quite disgusted today in new York city to see the latest twist in the vita cortex swindle by the directors and their p.r. As the proud daughter of one of the workers Henry o Reilly,I am both hurt and sickened by mr.mchenrys comments today.Never in a million years did I think that a name so familiar to us in our childhood years ,would abuse and abandon our family members in such a horrific way.Jack Ronan had shown us his true colors but the kids of the vita cortex workers are hurt beyond belief at mr .mchenrys treatment of us.Our fathers,mothers,sisters,brothers have been forced into this position by your son in law ,they have never protested or caused you any problems sir ,however the same cannott be said for the Ronan’s as is evident in public reports they have indeed been embroiled in similar circumstances in the past,which sadly makes me think personally that this is just how they do business.Our family members worked 847 years collectively for you and directly helped build the wealth yourself and jack Ronan enjoy and their thanks for that,not only are you trying to rob them blind of their life’s work but you now resort to continue this abuse by not exerting your influence over mr Ronan,who could indeed end all of this tomorrow by paying his bills like we all have to.Insulting well known publicly respected figures who felt compelled to help these people when given the complete facts of this injustice is quite frankly sir appalling.After reading your comments today it has only strengthened the resolve of the family members and our supporters .If anyone in our family was acting the way your son in law is sir my father would swiftly pull us aside and make sure we did the right thing ,but then that’s the type of people our dads are,honourable,something no am mount of money can buy it seems.We love you vita cortex workers,love you dad you make us more proud every day,and isn’t that every child’s wish to have family they can be proud of.

  2. typical response to a workers protest Mr McHenry !! 1914 lockout, 2012 lockin, we need a Jim Larkin here and now, not in our history books.

  3. When you are capable of writing a great response such as this, you should be challenging “The Merchant Princes” to a live debate. I’m sure TV3 would jump at the chance to air it live. Lets see who the audience backs!

  4. What can one say ?? only well said. What a bunch of great guys and dolls in Vita C. I wonder were the bosses short changed .( dont think so ) , I would treat his comments with the contempt that it deserves..he is trying to divert the very public attention from him, back to the workers, dont you love his spin. god loves a trier.The people of Cork and surrounding areas including dare I say international as well, nowI. know full well his business acumen .I.e he cannot be trusted///Also they may other companies in the same situation , Now they will think twice before pulling a stroke like this thanks to Vita C workers…….beidh tú a bheith rathúil you will be successful.. Vita C workers have time and determination on their side including the people of Cork…..I wonder who is under pressure now ????????

  5. I concur, a well written response to the irrational ranting of a devious businessman. How can he state that the Vita Cortex Workers have been able to pull the wool over the eye’s of the world! Is he saying that the former President is not briefed properly by her staff? Is he saying that so many people around the world have been duped? Not possible, they paid the statutory 2.9 weeks on former worker’s at different plants. I agree that they believed they could steal the money and shut down their business, paying themselves the only shareholder…whom are family and not be accountable to the Government? How could they steal money, taxable money, not pay the benefits to the employee’s and not be held accountable for those actions? How are they going to report the business as a loss, when the shareholders were paid all the money. They literally shut the doors, moved the money and cashed out….thinking as stated above that they could blame it on the recession, that no one would take notice? Did they really believe that their workers were not smart enough, strong enough to fight them? The owners are two faced, conniving white collared thieves! I thought there was a law put in place after Veronica Guerin was murdered, that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has the right to seize all proceeds of crime from criminals and serious tax defaulters! They fall under the later “Serious Tax Defaulters” as closing a business that was in the Green…not the Red, paying the shareholder’s (family) all the money from the accounts, shut down without paying the “Employee’s” their final pay of 2.9 weeks Redundancy should equate to serious tax defaulter’s come the end of the fiscal year! Maybe Ronan and McHenry should be jailed for 2.9 weeks for every year the employee’s were not paid? As they are not reporting accurate bookkeeping by closing a company without paying the employee’s they pay and come tax time, not paying taxes on a business that was profitable! Just an Opinion from a well informed person!

  6. My God will they ever get a life and pay what they owe the workers it seems like they will never pay up and i feel so sorry for those people living in that factory its an absolute disgrace also well done to you all for keepimng up the protest it must be exausting especially when it looks like ye r getting nowhere but please dont give husband is in a situation now that wudnt happen in the 1900s and things will only get worse here so thank God for you out in Vita Cortex at least ya are stayin together what the jack ronans of this country want is for ye all to fall apart and then he will win……..Keep up the good fight.

  7. The above comment is Absolutely correct! When your in a fight, the first tactic is to disperse the other side…Your 32 Plus over 7500 Strong, not counting Twitter and those who don’t use Computers….they are only 3! Don’t back down, and most importantly don’t fall apart! May God Bless all those who have been donating food, time, energy and money to help you keep the fight going! Also, you are all so Dignified in your fight, unlike the McHenry’s and Ronan’s…they will fall apart because Liars aways get caught in the end…even if it’s when they face their maker! God Bless Everyone!

  8. I wonder what were their plans for the building plus all the stock plus the manufacturing machinery, ? sell them and pocket the proceeds.making them richer again and they pleading inability to pay.will they ever be able to walk down the street with their heads held high, NO THEY WONT.. Will the Vita C .workers YES they will..Maybe the inland R should look at their wealth.Remember lads and lassies that ye are not alone in your fight. You all are fighting to give courage to others who may find themselfs in similar situations in the not to near future….
    May god give you all the strength and determination to continue with your just cause……..

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