Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 16:54 UK

Holiday staff stage Dublin sit-in

Thomas Cook staff are staging a sit-in in the Dublin office
Almost 40 workers, including two pregnant women, have said they will stay in the store

Thomas Cook staff have staged a sit-in at one of its Irish branches over redundancy terms after the early closure of its high street operation.

Almost 40 workers said they will remain in the Dublin store until bosses offer a better redundancy package.

Management at the travel giant shut the two Dublin stores a month ahead of schedule claiming they wanted to minimise any disruption to customers.

The cuts will not affect operations in Northern Ireland.

Caroline Cullen, one of the protesting workers at the Grafton Street store, said the mood was upbeat.

"The staff are all hyped up. We're all doing all right, as well as expected", the 30-year-old said.

Ms Cullen has worked for the travel company for eight years as an accounts assistant.

The Grafton Street store was closed a month early
The Grafton Street store was closed a month early

She claimed bosses arrived from England and called an impromptu staff meeting where they said the stores would be closed on Friday.

"We're just looking for a proper redundancy payment," Ms Cullen said.

In May, the travel company announced it was shutting its High Street operation in Ireland.

Some 77 jobs are to be axed with the closure of the two Thomas Cook branches as well as a Direct Holidays outlet, although the latter is not due to shut until the end of the summer.

Thomas Cook insisted it would maintain its Irish business at its back office and call centre operation in Parkwest, Dublin with 70 positions being retained.

The company said it was offering five weeks per year of service as a redundancy package, which will drop to two weeks if the workers do not accept it.

A spokesman said: "Following more than two months of consultation, it is with regret that we have now reached the decision to continue with plans to close the two Thomas Cook stores.

"During this time we have considered several alternatives to make the two stores profitable but unfortunately these have not proved to be viable.

"The Grafton Street and North Earl Street stores will close today.

"Our priority is to contact customers with bookings made through the two stores to let them know how to contact us and to make arrangements for the collection of travel documentation."

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