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Thomas Cook staff arrested for sit-in protest

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Forty-six Thomas Cook employees who took part in a sit-in to protest against redundancies, have been arrested and charged with contempt of court.

Following losses of approximately one million euros per year, the firm had been forced to close two Dublin branches as well as a branch of Direct Holidays, a local subsidiary and an operations office.

Employees were told in May the closures would take place in September, but last week the company announced the two Dublin Thomas Cook branches would close on Friday, causing 46 redundancies.

The staff and representatives from the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) staged a sit-in at the Grafton Street branch following the latest announcement, and Thomas Cook received a High Court injunction on Saturday to have them removed.

Following numerous requests for the protestors to vacate the premises including letters through the door, police broke in on Tuesday morning, arresting protestors one by one. All employees who took part in the strike appeared in court on Tuesday, but were released without further action. The staff will not face fines or prison sentences.

Thomas Cook said its position has not changed, but confirmed it is prepared to re-enter talks with the trade union and employee representatives as previously offered. Staff have been offered five weeks' redundancy pay, when the statutory minimum redundancy pay in the republic of Ireland currently stands at two weeks' salary. The TSSA is pressing for an eight-week redundancy pay package.

Pete Constanti, CEO of mainstream travel for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, said: "Despite the shocking and outrageous actions and behaviour of staff and the TSSA union, we are prepared to enter into further talks now the unlawful possession of our property has ceased. It is regrettable the unreasonable and unacceptable terms demanded by the union have directly impacted the potentially disadvantaged staff."