Socialist Worker

Brutal police assault on Thomas Cook workers in Dublin

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2163

bosses and the Irish government have launched an appalling assault on workers fighting for their jobs.

At 5am on Tuesday, some 100 police officers took over a shopping street and smashed their way into a workers’ occupation at the Thomas Cook store in central Dublin.

They sealed off the street, dragged peaceful demonstrators away and broke into the occupation with a battering ram.

Outside the Four Courts in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon some 300 people protested against the eviction and arrest of the workers.

The workers were released after they purged their contempt of court and agreed to abide by the injunction as Socialist Worker went to press.

Thomas Cook management agreed to hold talks with the workers.

More than 40 Thomas Cook workers had been occupying since Friday of last week in response to the company’s attempts to sack them.

Workers sleeping inside were taken out and arrested.

One heavily pregnant woman in the occupation went into labour after being arrested and was eventually taken to hospital.

Police initially refused to allow her husband, who is also one of the arrested occupiers, to accompany her, but both parents were present at the birth of Chelsea Clancy.

Twenty eight people were arrested. In addition to the Thomas Cook workers this included councillor Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance.

The determination of the Irish bosses to hold back the fight against job cuts was such that the Irish court sat three times on a bank holiday—specifically to set up the attack on the occupation.

The Irish bosses and state are fearful of escalating resistance to their continued attacks on workers’ rights.

Before the raid, Thomas Cook worker Antoinette Shevlin spoke to Socialist Worker from the occupation.

“On Friday the Thomas Cook security turned up, told us the shop was being closed and asked us to leave in an orderly fashion,” she said. “We weren’t taking that, so we occupied.”

The workers, who are members of the TSSA transport union, locked themselves on the top floor and refused to come out.

“The support has just been fantastic,” said Antoinette.

“People have collected money and dropped in food for us. Workers at a local grocery store sent us breakfast.”

Thomas Cook made £400 million profit last year, and CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa paid himself a £6 million bonus.

The company is majority owned by nationalised bank the Royal Bank of Scotland—meaning that it is essentially a public company owned by us.

The closure of the Grafton Street shop had been planned to take place on 6 September.

It was moved forward after staff there held protests against the closure and voted 100 percent for industrial action.

Patrick, another worker, told Socialist Worker, “The management said, ‘You’re sacked and here’s your letter’. We told them to go and get stuffed.

“We won’t be treated without respect or dignity.”

Eight workers at Direct Holidays, another Dublin travel shop owned by Thomas Cook, also occupied from Saturday to Monday over a closure threat.

They voted to leave their occupation and join the picket outside the larger shop, before police smashed it.

This brutal assault on workers fighting for their jobs needs to be opposed by every trade unionist.

Emailfennj@tssa.org.uk and info@peoplebeforeprofit.ie


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News
Tue 4 Aug 2009, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2163
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