Ireland: Workers’ occupation at Thomas Cook, Dublin

Taking a stand against job cuts and bullying bosses

Occupied offices on Grafton Street, Dublin

Last Friday 31 July it was announced that roughly half of the workers employed by Thomas Cook (the holiday travel agency) and its subsidiaries in Dublin were to be sacked on derisory redundancy payments.

Management and security wanted to sack the workers and immediately remove them from the premises however instead the workers responded by immediately occupying one of the shops.

Today, the Bank Holiday Monday, hundreds attended a rally in support of the occupation outside the premises at Grafton Street in Dublin city centre.

The issues are the loss of jobs at a time of mass unemployment. Up to sixty jobs will be lost in the shops and a further twenty are due to be lost at the Thomas Cook call centre at Park West Dublin.

However, at this point the main focus has been opposition to the redundancy terms offered, 5 weeks pay per year of service with the threat that it will be less if the workers resist. The union involved is the British based TSSA (Transport Salaried Staff Association).

The company got a High Court order instructing the workers to leave the building but this is being ignored. The exact attitude of the police to the enforcement of the order remains to be seen though the workers at this stage are quite determined to defend their occupation. Two women in the occupation are at advanced stages in their pregnancies.

Rally in support

Putting the boot in

It is a disgrace that for defending their livelihoods these workers are being dragged to the courts and threatened with physical eviction and worse. The same state is bending over backwards to bailout the bankers and speculators whose greed has caused this unprecedented economic crisis. Again one law for the rich and another for the rest of us.

Court orders that demand that the occupations end must be resisted. These workers must not be left isolated. The full power of the trade union movement must be mobilised without any delay so the state doesn’t even attempt to physically remove the workers.

Socialist Party councillor, Ruth Coppinger speaks in support

Socialist Party councillor, Ruth Coppinger speaks in support

Unions have the power to fight

By cutting costs through sackings throughout their world-wide operations and increasing the exploitation of those remaining Thomas Cook is increasing its profits. They made substantially more than €400 million in profit last year.

As it is vital to try to ratchet up the pressure on the company the issues of continuing to try to make connections with the other Thomas Cook workers in Dublin and asking trade unionists to black services to Thomas Cook business in whatever way they can, should be pursued.

United we stand – divided we fall

The best outcome will be achieved if the struggle is fully united. Management are trying hard to intimidate and divide the workers. The union must resist any attempts to divide the workers between those who are direct employees of Thomas Cook and those working for subsidiaries like Direct Holidays. All the workers should be involved in one combined struggle, anything else suits the management.

Trying to reach other Thomas Cook workers

While the response from workers at Park West and in other parts of the country hasn’t been supportive at this point, it is important to continue to try to make connections. The reality, as the redundancies in Park West show, is that none of the jobs or conditions of any of these workers are safe.

Some of the workers in Park West and in Northern Ireland undoubtedly realise this but may be intimidated by management. However, if the union built a momentum and presented a firm fighting strategy perhaps some of these workers could come over and get involved with the struggle and the union.

As any extension of the dispute like this could be a big blow to the company, it is worth continuing the effort. Making connections with other Thomas Cook workers who are facing the same attacks in the likes of Britain or Germany should also be pursued.

Unions must ensure that it is not “business as usual” for Thomas Cook

It is important to try to tie down the support from the trade union movement. The workers should get organised and make direct appeals to the trade unionists and seek quick practical assistance in:

  • Resisting the court orders
  • In getting financial assistance and
  • Co-ordinating other workers and trade unionists to help the dispute by not co-operating with Thomas Cook businesses including =subsidiaries.
  • These workers are making a stand against management bullying, job cuts and attacks on workers rights, issues that many other workers are also experiencing. The unions should give them full support. In particular they must give a commitment to fully back any other workers who refuse to service or work on Thomas Cook related business.

Please send messages of support to the occupation and reference how you heard about the struggle.

Thomas Cook Strikers

Fax – 0035316771258 or 0035318783965

Email – wendy@thomascook.ie or fennj@tssa.org.uk

Text – 00353879481972

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