The World Knows Them As Struggling Workers, I Know Them As My Friends

By Eleanor Murphy

I still remember my first day at work in Vita Cortex in April of 1972. It was pre the oil crisis and we were experiencing a bit of an economic boom. Situations vacant in the daily newspapers were 10 a penny, but from that first day in 1972 I was so happy and contented in my job it never entered my mind to leave. As a group of workers we were one big happy family, management were fair and everyone did their job to the best of their ability.  As the remit of work done in the factory expanded the wealth of management grew and all were content.

Everyone following this campaign has got to know bits and pieces about these struggling workers. I know them as my friends and there is so much more everyone should know about them.

Greg was one of the most dedicated workers I ever met, his job was the most important thing in his life and he carried out his tasks above and beyond the call of duty for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week and more. By now everyone knows that Greg is fiery. We fought like a cat and dog at times when there was pressure to have sales orders filled with tight deadlines.  But he never failed to deliver on my requests, every truck was ready for every driver the next day and every client was satisfied. And then we laughed and made up.

Cal, Alan, and Jim were the long distance and local drivers. They were always so accommodating and in such good humour. Even when new customer orders meant complicated delivery routes they never complained. Helen and Lillian in the sewing department were always at the ready with the needle and thread to put the last minute orders into action. Kevin McCabe was a complete gentleman, any time he saw me struggling to carry products up the factory to the office, he would appear from nowhere to come to my help. Timmy Burke would always fit in an emergency order without complaint.  All who worked there were wonderful people. The customers who came in on a regular basis always commented on the good atmosphere which existed in Vita.

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I remember the days like yesterday. Maybe I am wearing rose tinted glasses as I think back over almost 40 years but to me they were good old days. Many  a night I could be sitting watching tv and suddenly something relating to work would pop into my mind so I would pop across the road to check all was in order for the following day. My kids would say “mum it’s like your second home” and it was. That was the Vita Cortex I knew.

Last February 2011 due to health reasons, it became necessary for me to take redundancy. I was given the package at 2.9 weeks per year, no questions were asked and no bargaining was needed. 2.9 weeks was the norm received by all those who had left prior to that date.

There is such a discrepancy between how I was treated and the appalling way in which my former colleagues, my family are being treated now.  I really am very annoyed and surprised with the former owners, in particular Mr McHenry whom I always held in high regard. For that reason I have supported the campaign from day one, attending the rallies and concerts and sitting in on some of the shifts. I believe this issue has gone on too long. I believe representatives of the owners and workers should work together to come to a resolution. I am proud to be part of the vc32 and the great dignity and composure they have shown. On Day 100 I continue to support them and hope that after so long this story does not fade in to the background. These workers are not just faceless nameless people fighting for redundancy, they are ordinary people who want justice for everyone, they are hard-working and deserving, they are my friends and I urge everyone to continue to rally behind them.

Eleanor Murphy worked at Vita Cortex from 1972 – 2011. She wrote this on the 100th day of the struggle. Her views are her own.

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