The 28 workers arrested this morning for occupying the Grafton Street outlet of Thomas Cook were released this afternoon after agreeing not to resume their occupation or damage the property of Thomas Cook.
On Friday 31 July Thomas Cook managers and security went to close down shops in Dublin at 10 a.m. Over 70 staff were sacked and offered an appalling 5 weeks redundancy pay with the threat that it would be dropped to two weeks if the workers did not accept it. Staff in two of the outlets then occupied their workplaces in response. The workers, some of whom are members of the Transport and Salaried Staff Association (TSSA), had been served a court ordered to leave the premises but had refused to budge until their demands for an improved redundancy package were met.
Then in a dawn raid, that you’d be forgiven for associating more with a dictatorship, over 150 Garda stormed the building and arrested 28 of the workers. In a move that is a clear indication of the Irish states hardening attitude to workers in struggle Judge had instructed the cops to have all those breaking the injunction brought before him by 2pm on Tuesday 4th of August.
A protest was organised at short notice at the Four Courts in Dublin saw around 200 people come out in support of the workers and in Belfast around 40 people turned out to picket the Thomas Cook outlet in Donegal Square West at short notice. The Belfast protest was called by the Socialist party and attended by members of Organise! and other anarchists. Other protests were also organised internationally.
Releasing the workers after they agreed to an undertaking not to trespass or interfere with the property of Thomas Cook Justice Michael Peart said he fully understood the distress and anger of the sacked workers. However, he said that cannot permit the law to be broken, as that would be a recipe for anarchy!
The context to this dispute is a company that seeks to consolidate and increase profits through the closure of more than 100 shops. The closures in Dublin fly in the face of these shops making more than £400 million profit during 2008.
Manny Fontenla-Novoa, CEO of Thomas Cook, recently received a 34% pay rise and a 7 million Euro bonus. This was his reward for boosting profits by making over 2,000 low paid workers redundant across the UK. Now he wants to do the same to his loyal Irish staff.
Thomas Cook staff in Dublin remain determined in their struggle to improve their redundancies despite having had the full wiehgt of the Irish state brought down on them on behalf of Manny Fontenla-Novoa.
Supporters of the workers are urged to:
1. Hand write a message and run it through the fax: fax number: 00 35316 771258 and 00 35318 783965
2. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and fennj@TSSA.org.uk
3. Join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=117888623383&ref=mf
4. Sign the online petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savethomascookjobsinireland