Thomas Cook sit-in continues


Thomas Cook staff in Dublin are today continuing a protest in company offices over terms of a redundancy package despite being served with a High Court order yesterday that they leave the premises.

More than 40 workers, including two pregnant women, have occupied the company's outlet in Grafton Street, Dublin, since Friday after management announced the immediate closure of the company’s two offices in the city at midday yesterday.

The workforce is seeking an improved redundancy package.

In a statement today, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said the company was granted a temporary injunction yesterday that "left the protesters unmoved".

"The full hearing tomorrow morning [at the High Court] will take place shortly after a demonstration of solidarity by Irish TDs and trade union leaders is held outside the Grafton Street store," the statement added.

Gerry Doherty, general secretary of the TSSA, said he had been summoned to court tomorrow morning but added: "“Members are still inside, the mood is euphoric, we are fighting this . . . the support we are getting from the court of public opinion is huge.

“The High Court will only rule on the legality of our actions,” he said. “We know we have already won the moral argument against a rich German-owned company which is treating its Irish staff like second class citizens.”

Yesterday, the protest today had spread to a second store in Dublin’s Talbot Street.

Mr Doherty added: “No strike breakers will be allowed into the shops while the sit-in continues. We are not moving until Thomas Cook agrees to sit down with us and reach a proper agreement.

"We are not going to be bullied and threatened by a company which is deserting Ireland after 125 years.”

He said that unless agreement was reached by Tuesday, he would ask the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to organise a boycott of Thomas Cook holidays by its 800,000 members.

Caroline Cullen (30), a worker with Thomas Cook for eight years, said the protesters were not being put off by the court order. “Thomas Cook can come and talk anytime and we don’t need to go ahead with this,” she said.

Ms Cullen, who has spent the past two nights in the Grafton Street store, said passers-by had provided them with food in support of their cause.

Management have moved to shut the firm’s two Dublin stores a month ahead of schedule, claiming they want to minimise any disruption to customers.

Some 77 jobs are being axed with the closure of the two Thomas Cook branches as well as a Direct Holidays outlet, although the latter is not due to shut until the end of the summer.

Thomas Cook insisted it would maintain its Irish business at its back office and call centre operation in Parkwest, Dublin, with 70 positions being retained. The cuts will not affect operations in Northern Ireland.

Thomas Cook said it brought forward the closure to minimise disruption to customers.

The company said it was offering five weeks per year of service as a redundancy package, which will drop to two weeks if the workers do not accept it.

Additional reporting PA