The Taoiseach and other Members are well aware that many companies across Ireland have made workers redundant in the light of the broader economic context and owing to the collapse of the economy. In recent weeks everyone has become familiar with the cases of two high profile companies, Lagan Brick in Drumgill and Vita Cortex in Cork. Some 29 workers at Lagan Brick were not even given 30 days notice in December when they were made redundant. I understand these individuals have agreed to go to the Labour Court and it is to be hoped this process will have a successful outcome. However, the Vita Cortex workers are completely in limbo and experiencing considerable difficulties. The Taoiseach met them last Friday, for which they are very grateful. There is cross-party agreement in the House that the workers in this company have been treated in an appalling manner by their employer. In total, they have given Vita Cortex over 847 years of loyal service and they were bluntly informed in December that they would not be receiving ex gratia redundancy payments. This was despite the fact that they had been promised such payments in September.
The workers at Vita Cortex have been involved in a sit-in since 16 December. I am sure everyone agrees that, in essence, they have been deserted by their employer. The net amount outstanding at this stage is approximately €372,000. If this money was paid, the matter would be resolved. I accept that there are complications in the relationship involving the company, its owner and NAMA. It is clear, however, that moral responsibility lies with the owner. I am sure everyone would agree with me in that regard. Unfortunately, the initial intervention in the matter by the Labour Relations Commission was unsuccessful and suspended. The fact that they could potentially face legal action by their employer as a result of their sit-in is particularly worrying for the workers and their families.
In the spirit of the cross-party agreement on this matter and not withstanding all of the interventions which have taken place to date, will the Taoiseach or the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation consider meeting the owner of the company in order to convey the view of the Oireachtas that the behaviour engaged in up to now has been unacceptable? Such a meeting might also be of assistance in trying to discover whether it might be possible to arrive at a resolution of the matter that would be in the interests of all concerned. It could also be used to reinitiate the Labour Relations Commission's intervention or convey to the owner the absolute disgust of the Executive and the Parliament at what is happening.