One shop defies court order, one shop returns to work in Dublin Thomas Cook occupation

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Occupiers petition passersby in Grafton Street outside the Thomas Cook shop.
Image: Paul.c.Redmond.

Employees staging an occupation of the Thomas Cook travel agency & foreign exchange office in Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland have voted to defy a High Court order and remain inside their office, in protest against a redundancy offer they say they "cannot live on" while they look for new jobs.

Employees of Thomas Cook subsidiary Direct Holidays in Talbot Street, meanwhile, will return to work tomorrow morning after a narrow majority voted to end their occupation.

According to Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) staff member Jon Clark, who is present in the Grafton street office and has now joined the occupation, speaking to Wikinews by telephone, about seventy-five per cent of the 44 Thomas Cook staff voted to keep the occupation going after a Dublin High Court judge set a 7pm deadline for them to vacate the premises. The occupiers now face criminal charges and have been informed that the Garda Síochána will arrive at 11am Tuesday morning to evict them.

Thomas Cook says the Grafton Street store has not been turning a profit for five years and is shutting down retail operations in the Republic of Ireland.

In response, the occupiers and members of TSSA staff present at the site have asked protesters and trade unionists to gather outside the store at 10:30am Tuesday morning and resist the police. A crowd that Clark estimates at 300 rallied today outside the Thomas Cook store in a bank holiday protest supporting the occupation.

TSSA staff in the occupation are now acting in defiance of the their union. TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty told Dublin's High Court that "my association will always obey the law of the land" during today's hearing, and TSSA staff joining the occupation face possible disciplinary action from the union. Clark told Wikinews that the protesters fear official support from other unions being withdrawn and are attempting to establish a fund to which people can contribute money for the occupiers' welfare. Money can currently be sent via the TSSA's head office in London.

Dublin Lord Mayor and Labour Party member Emer Costello visited the occupation today, lending her support to the protesters. "I find it very disheartening that people have to go to those lengths to try and protect their jobs. It’s a very bad situation. I’m very disappointed that Thomas Cook feels it has to shut down its Irish operation", the mayor told the Irish Times.


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