Sometimes justice remains outside the reach of the law: This campaign remains lit

In the past 24 hours the last of the former Vita Cortex workers have received their statutory redundancy.  As the online campaign said in a previous blog when the announcement was made this has to be welcomed. These 32 people have spent almost 70 days and nights living in a cold factory. It has been a tough struggle for all concerned emotionally and financially.  And who would deny them this sense of stability after the way these men and women have stood up and shown a nation, rocked by austerity and cutbacks, how to fight against injustice? However this payment does not represent a victory. The men responsible for the struggle of these workers have not paid their debt, taxpayers, both personal and corporate have through the social insurance fund.

There are some be inclined to think that – “well sure isn’t that enough for them really?  But the heart of this struggle was about compelling the company owners to make good on their promises and that has not happened. There are some of you who will wonder if the fast tracking was a move by economic and social powers to quash the campaign against these owners, a campaign that has shed an unwelcome light on the corporate law system in Ireland and the inability or unwillingness of the government to act against the unscrupulous behaviour in the business community.  That is a question to which we do not have an answer.

What we do know though is that there are parties who are using the payment of the statutory redundancy to try to make this campaign disappear.  Accusations were made against the workers calling them “blackmailers”, slurs against the character of high profile supporters were made in letters to newspapers and IBEC came out defending the company owners and attacking the worker’s union.

Message of support from students at Kenmare Community College

Another issue worth mentioning is that there is often a difference between that which is legal and that which is morally right. The Irish system of Corporate Law has been constructed in such a way as to allow business owners to share fully in the upside of their business activities and remain mostly insulated from the downside. It has been established this way to encourage entrepreneurs to take risks and be creative in starting and growing businesses without being inhibited by fear of personal financial consequences should their endeavors end in failure. This is what powers a capitalist economy. However these laws were written, with an underlying assumption that those benefiting from their advantages had sound moral judgment in terms of right and wrong and would be lead by a sense of ethical behaviour towards those they employ. That is where Mr. Ronan and Mr. McHenry come in. While running a company in to the ground, transferring funds from one company in the group to another and making 2.5 million euro payouts to 3 shareholders may lie within the auspices of company law, it does not mean that it is not morally reprehensible to amass huge personal wealth at the expense of workers you break promises to while you allow the state to pay your debts.  We should not allow the owners of this company and IBEC to equate “legal” with “morally right”. Doing the right thing implies both operating within the law and having regard for the human beings who worked loyally for you for 847 years.  We should, as “fair minded people”, not make that mistake.

These 32 workers believe that the company, group and owners have the capacity to pay the full redundancy as promised – 2 weeks to be returned to the state and .9 to be paid to the workers. They believe that further investigation is warranted in to the circumstances that allowed this situation to happen. This fight has become less about money and more about justice. It aims to highlight the injustices inherent in a legal system that cannot protect workers from immoral business owners and in fact actually enables their reprehensible actions. This fight aims to make wealthy business owners,  not the state, liable for their own debts.

Could the 32 workers just take their statutory and go home? Absolutely. Many of them are nearing retirement and could go home and have some comfort. But if they give up what will have been achieved from 70 days and nights of hardship? Nothing. Who would be the next victims of Jack Ronan and other unscrupulous business people? Maybe you or your family or friends. And what would the government of this country have done to protect our rights and those of every other worker, their children and grandchildren? Nothing.  So this campaign stays lit. It stays alive because the people who are responsible have not yet been held accountable. It stays alive because promises remain unfulfilled and the law remains inadequate. It stays alive because this story is a microcosm of what is happening to people all over Ireland and these 32 workers are fighting for justice for all of us.

Veronica Marshall & Darren O’Keeffe

Coordinators of the Support The Vita Cortex Workers Online Campaign

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11 thoughts on “Sometimes justice remains outside the reach of the law: This campaign remains lit

  1. IBEC have no morals and are constantly undermining Unions and the Working Class through their smear campaigns. They are supported in their endeveaors by Corrupt Politicians.

    Keep Fighting the Good Fight we stand behind you!!

  2. Fantastic blog guys,anyone that thinks this is anyway near resolved with statutory payments from the social insurance fund is entirely missing the point,judging by the support though I’d say most fair minded people get the big picture.The vita cortex workers the children of Ireland entering into the workforce will thank you,and anyone in the work force right now is well aware that if this injustice if not rectified puts us all on treacherous ground as employees.

  3. What a well written piece, and you brought the point of why the campaign should continue!
    To prevent these same men and other scrupulous business’s from not paying employee’s, taxes and 2 week redundancy that the Government is picking up. This is what causes “Deficits” and continues to push the Country further into a recession. It’s not about taking a payout and going home, it’s about the legal, moral accountability of these business’s and the other past and future employee’s who become redundant. The system needs to be fixed to prevent this from continuing to re-occur and causing so many family’s hardships! Again, an Excellent article!

  4. Well said and you are right this is about justice and right. Business needs to know that it too has responsibilities and it must honour those responsibilities to those without whom business could not exist. Morality must become a commodity in business and business must know that it will face a just response based on people power when it does not invest in morality.
    This campaign holds the moral high ground and is showing the business community how a people who are treated unjustly can be determined, steadfast, consistent and will overcome because they are right.

  5. Hi Guys, I have just followed your blog. It’s excellent and I can’t stress enough how much I admire you. There are too many people today accepting everything that is thrown at them. I really feel that there are some employers out there taking advantage of the situation we are in today. They want people to work for low wages and yet they present them with heavier work loads and longer hours. Sadly our government who we elected this time last year with lots of hope for the future, accept this scandalous behaviour. I myself was made redundant in this way back in 2010 we were put out by the liquidator with no money, we had to wait a year for a payment from the government. Again the tax payer picked up the tab. I wish we had done what you guys are doing. I still have no job but have gone to college and studying sociology and it’s the best thing I ever did. I am learning a lot about how un-equal this society really is and how greedy and corroupt our banks and governments are. There are so many greedy business people out there too just like your previous employer. We are all proud of you, as you are showing people out there how it should be done. Keep up the good work and don’t listen to the critics they don’t matter only you, your families and those of us who are supporting you. 🙂

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