From Socialist Voice, August 2009

The Thomas Cook affair

Eighty gardaí assembled in Dublin for a dawn raid on the 4th of August. Was it to frustrate a terrorist plot? Was it to combat gangland violence? Or had they a mission to round up the delinquent bankers, property speculators and corrupt politicians who crashed our economy?
     No: it was to arrest a group of workers occupying the premises of Thomas Cook Ltd, their employer, which had arbitrarily closed down its business in the Republic, throwing its employees out of work with only the statutory redundancy payment.
     The brave gardaí proceeded to kick in the front door and arrest the workers, along with a few “revolutionary” hitch-hikers looking for a day in court.
     There are many companies in serious trouble in the present crisis, struggling to survive and not always succeeding. Thomas Cook is not one of them: it can still declare healthy profits and reward its chief executive with an increase of 34 per cent and a bonus of £5 million. It could easily afford to meet the demands of the workers for more generous redundancy terms.
     Instead it sought to take advantage of the crisis atmosphere to attack its workers. This is part of the general offensive against the working class by the employers and the state.
     The support the Thomas Cook workers received from their own union, the TSSA, from Unite and SIPTU and from trade unionists generally, is heartening. It shows that a fight-back is indeed possible.
     It is a pity the message has not got through to the leadership of the ICTU, who remained silent throughout the dispute, apparently still committed to the failed policy of collaboration with the employers and the state. The workers got more sympathy from the judge, who let them go without a fine or a jail sentence, than they did from David Begg.

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