The Labour Relations Commission has intervened in the Vita Cortex dispute in Cork, where workers have been staging a sit-in since mid-December over redundancy payments.

It is understood that the LRC has invited Vita Cortex management and SIPTU to exploratory discussions aimed at helping the parties to clarify the facts of the situation.

Sources said that against this background the LRC hopes to explore with the parties what potential there is to find a mutual way forward.

The talks are scheduled to take place in Cork on Tuesday.

Both SIPTU and the owner of Vita Cortex, Jack Ronan, have confirmed acceptance of the invitation from the LRC.

A spokesman said Mr Ronan welcomed the invitation while SIPTU Organiser Ann Egar said the sit-in at the plant is to continue and tomorrow's protest rally outside the Dáil will go ahead as planned.

Two buses are due to leave Cork tomorrow morning at 8am to bring the 32 workers and supporters to the lunchtime rally.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said: "I welcome the initiative by the LRC and would urge both parties to engage constructively in the process.

"I am pleased that dialogue between the parties to the dispute has now been facilitated."

In the Dáil, Fianna Fáil's Mícheál Martin called on the Government to respond proactively in relation to the dispute.

Mr Martin said the Government should employ an interdepartmental process to deal with the situation.