Victory at last
Last night saw the end of a 139 day battle by 32 ordinary people for what common decency said was rightfully theirs.
These 32 defiant workers have spent Christmas, Easter and hundreds of hours in the cold bare factory that had been their workday home for a combined total of 847 years.
During the course of their arduous campaign, one of them, Henry O’Reilly, was diagnosed with and began treatment for cancer. Others missed out on countless family occasions, hot dinners, and all the comforts of home while they spent their days and nights in a chilly common room, in a hollowed out factory, betrayed by the employer to whom they had devoted so many years.
Their victory is a victory for the power of the ordinary person against the greed and arrogance of those who think they are immune from honesty and decency.
Goodwill poured into that factory from all over the world, with people as near as Mrs Cross who brought soup and sandwiches once a week, and Zico’s pizzeria which fed the workers every night, and as far as former President Mary Robinson, Irish football legend Paul McGrath and political theorist Noam Chomsky. The workers knew we were all on their side.
But at no point was there any certainty they would win their fight.
In a world where the news cycle is fickle and we all have short attention spans, the men and women of Vita Cortex are an advertisement for sticking to your guns; for standing up for what is right; and for not losing hope when everyone else around you has.
Although they became disheartened at times, they never gave up. They are a lesson to all of us and a beacon of hope in these troubled times that sometimes justice can be done, and the ‘little guy’ can get justice.
Those 32 people and those who supported them deserve our admiration and respect – as Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in the Dáil this week – they certainly deserve our respect.
What they also deserve is to go home to their families with the money that is rightfully theirs, knowing that they have fought the good fight.
And, finally, they can do it.