Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 16:03 UK

Thomas Cook workers are released

Police officers entered the offices in Dublin
Officers entered the premises in Dublin in the early hours of the morning

Workers who staged a five-day sit-in at a Thomas Cook branch in Dublin have been released after being arrested for contempt of court.

The 16 former staff, which include two pregnant women, occupied the store in defiance of the court ruling after the company closed two outlets last Friday.

The staff and their supporters were released after agreeing to obey the order to stay away from the shop.

The staff had been arrested by Irish police early on Tuesday morning.

One of the pregnant women was taken to hospital where she gave birth to a baby girl.

The workers were seeking an improved redundancy package.

Trade union Unite said the removal of the workers was a "dark stain on the history of industrial relations in Ireland".

"These are ordinary working people standing up for their rights," said regional secretary Jimmy Kelly.

"They have a right to be treated with respect and for their employer to hold to a standard of engagement that, in this case, has merely been cast aside."

The closures will not affect operations in Northern Ireland, the travel company said.

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

Holidays

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 would drop to two weeks if the workers did not accept it.



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