Monday 20 November 2017

This is the millionaire boss who won't pay redundancy to his 32 laid-off workers.

PROPERTY magnate Jack Ronan is the man behind Vita Cortex -- the company which forced staff into a Christmas sit-in for their entitlements.

Ronan has numerous properties and corporate interests in both Ireland and the UK.

His property portfolio is worth millions, and has retained much of its value despite the property crash.

But Ronan’s Vita Cortex firm has claimed it is not in a position to pay redundancy to 32 workers who are now facing into a fourth week of a sit-in protest at a freezing factory in Cork.

Between them, the 32 employees have clocked up 847 year of service to Vita Cortex.

They have staged a sit-in at their former place of employment since December 16.

Mr Ronan’s firm is now insisting that the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) - which froze assets belonging to a sister company of Vita Cortex last year - should pay the redundancy from cash in one frozen bank account.

NAMA has said it cannot legally do this as the account forms part of the loan guarantee which triggered their involvement and relates to another firm in the group.

However, it has now emerged the millionaire industrialist has a huge range of interests in Cork and his native Tipperary.

Mr Ronan’s assets include retail parks in Cork and Tipperary, luxury penthouse apartments, a sprawling stud farm in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, a supermarket and an investment property in Wicklow as well as an agri-fertility business.

One of Mr Ronan’s properties – the Sherkin Penthouse at Lancaster Gate – is considered one of Cork’s best addresses.

The businessman’s involvement in property development caused his problems – with Vita Cortex having traded successfully since the 1960s. The firm makes foam for the furniture and aviation industries.

One TD, Ciaran Lynch (Lab), said the workers seemed to be on the receiving end of “a financial merry-go-round”.

Vita Cortex staff lost their jobs on December 16 and haven’t received a cent in redundancy payments. Their entitlements are estimated at €1.2m and they could now wait two years for State-based payments.

Workers launched a sit-in protest on December 16 and spent Christmas and New Year’s Day in the freezing Kinsale Road plant.

Their plight has sparked an outpouring of sympathy from Cork locals and Irish workers nationwide.

Today, Vita Cortex workers challenged Mr Ronan to make a detailed statement on his assets and interests and explain precisely why his firm cannot pay their redundancy.

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