Thomas Cook workers vow to continue sit-in

Protesting workers staging a sit-in at a Thomas Cook branch in Dublin vowed to continue their action for a third day today despite a High Court ruling ordering them to leave.

Protesting workers staging a sit-in at a Thomas Cook branch in Dublin vowed to continue their action for a third day today despite a High Court ruling ordering them to leave.

More than 40 workers, including two pregnant women, occupied the outlet in Grafton Street after management announced the immediate closure of the company’s two offices in the city on Friday afternoon.

The workforce is seeking an improved redundancy package.

Gerry Doherty, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), said he was taking legal advice after being summoned to the Irish High Court tomorrow.

“Morale’s fantastic. We’re into day three now and I thought people would be starting to get tired, but no, morale hasn’t dipped one iota,” Mr Doherty said.

“It’s (the High Court order) not putting them off at all, they’re absolutely solidly united.”

The protest yesterday also spread to a Direct Holidays outlet – a Thomas Cook subsidiary – in Dublin’s Talbot Street.

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

The travel company had announced in May it was abandoning its high street operation in Ireland.

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.

Mr Doherty said a demonstration supported by TDs (MPs) and other trade unionists will take place outside the store tomorrow morning.

“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.”

Thomas Cook has 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 the North.

The company said it brought forward the closure to minimise disruption to customers.

Thomas Cook 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.

Trade union Unite, which organised a seven-week occupation of Waterford Crystal by workers set to lose their jobs earlier this year, offered the Thomas Cook staff support.

Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary, said: “The Thomas Cook workers have been treated abysmally.

“They were given one day’s notice of the closure of their office and severance packages that are derisory.

“Nobody likes to put life on hold and protest in this way but it is an action of last resort that workers are having to rely upon to achieve fair treatment.”

Mr Kelly said the union would be supporting the demonstration outside the Grafton Street branch tomorrow.

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