HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES AS CHRISTMAS DAY LOOMS
As the festive week dawned in Mitchelstown former 4Home Store’s employee and father of nine, John Lane, is set to spend Christmas Day in his car as his hunger strike continues at the square in the town. John has now been on hunger strike for over a week and intends to continue until his demands for the Labour Relation Commission’s recommendations in relation to his redundancy package from 4Home Store’s are put in place.
“I have worked over 38 years with the company, the package offered by the company is not acceptable to me, the LRC recommendation to the company is all I want and I will stay here on hunger strike until I get it,” a visibly weaker John Lane told The Avondhu.
Over 40 employees lost their jobs when 4Home Stores closed their outlets in Fermoy and Mitchelstown. John Lane remains the only former employee not to have accepted the company’s offer of 1.4 weeks redundancy payment for every year worked.
“I only want what the LRC recommended,” John Lane said.
In a statement to The Avondhu, a spokesman for 4Home Stores said that, while they were only too well aware of John Lane’s protest, they felt that certain facts about their position needed to be clarified and issued the following statement –
‘As Mr Lane continues his protest in Mitchelstown Square, the management of 4Home, his former employer, while initially not wanting to comment on details of the redundancy provided to Mr Lane, because of the nature of the protest and the allegations being made, the company now feels obligated to ensure that the facts are on public record.
“4Home regrets Mr Lane’s protest and is concerned for his safety and wellbeing. Mr Lane himself and those few people who have been encouraging him are entirely responsible for any risk to his health posed by the protest. Mr Lane was granted a substantial redundancy package upon the termination of his employment following the unavoidable closure of the 4Home Co-op Store in Mitchelstown, last August. Contrary to claims made by Mr Lane, he has no entitlement from Dairygold.
'Upon the establishment of 4Home in 2006, that company assumed all the legal responsibility with regard to Mr Lane’s prior employment in Dairygold and, in the redundancy package provided for Mr Lane, 4Home has discharged all its responsibilities covering his 38 years employment entitlements in full and indeed well in excess of and beyond the legal requirement.
'However, Mr Lane has to date neglected to collect the redundancy package agreed by the company with his trade union, Mandate, and his former colleagues, who were also made redundant’.
‘In light of the unfounded claims being made and to avoid risk of misunderstanding, the company confirms on the record that a redundancy package in excess of €84,000 nett after tax, including statutory and ex-gratia payments, has been and continues to be available for collection by Mr Lane whenever he might choose to collect it.
‘In addition, Mr Lane is entitled to a pension and has options in respect of this including a lump-sum amount at his discretion. Mr Lane’s claims of additional redundancy expectation have no foundation in fact and he has no further financial entitlement whatsoever arising from his former employment with the company beyond the €84,000 plus nett after tax payment that been provided for.
'Mr Lane’s protest and any consequence that might arise from it, is a matter for himself. 4Homes’ hopes that good sense will prevail and that Mr Lane will now collect his redundancy package and enjoy Christmas with his family’.
Many people have been offering their support to John Lane as he sits in his car in Mitchelstown, one passer by was concerned for his health. “He (John) must be pretty weak by now, the nights have been bitterly cold, and he is facing Christmas Day without food. I hope the company will do something to sort this out. It is a disgrace that this has been allowed to happen in this day and age. The senior management at Dairygold need to step in and sort this out before we have a very serious situation on our hands in Mitchelstown,” one local, who did not want to be named, said.
Local parish priest Father Michael Fitzgerald is also very worried about John Lane’s situation.
“The man has worked for over 30 years for this company and in this town, the company must take all this into account. I am very worried about his health. This is Christmas week, a time of peace and a time for families to be together, the company must do something fast to sort this whole situation out,” Fr Fitzgerald told The Avondhu.
Councillor Frank O’Flynn (FF) hopes the situation can be resolved quickly. “I hope that the impasse can be resolved urgently and I am sorry to see that the issue has come to this point a few days before Christmas. I am calling on the powers at 4Home Stores to step in and rectify this unfortunate situation,” Cllr O’Flynn said.
Other local representatives and community activists have also called on the company to end the hunger strike before John Lane’s health deteriorates further.
“It is a disgrace that Dairygold have allowed this to happen. And it is Dairygold’s responsibility, all this splitting hairs about 4Home Stores and Reox is just ridiculous. Dairygold let their former boss lose millions of euro over the period he was in control. While John Lane spent 38 years working hard for them and now they treat him like this. It’s a disgrace and I am shocked at the lack of concern our local TD has shown,” Timmy ‘Rancher’ White told The Avondhu. Former Limerick county Cathaoirleach John Gallahue also voiced his support for John Lane and his family.
“This is a disgrace to the local representatives in this area. Why have they not contacted the board of Dairygold? Why have they not been on radio, television, in the council chamber or indeed in the Dail highlighting this man’s protest? They are a disgrace and should resign in light of their lack of interest and care for one of their constituents,” John Gallahue said when he joined John Lane at his protest in the square.
Speaking to The Avondhu on his seventh day of hunger strike John Lane was determined to continue with his protest. “I am not moving until this is sorted out,” he said as he faced another night in his car in Mitchelstown.
Monday 4th January 9:57am