Protester Avril Boyne with baby Chelsea

The union representing staff in Thomas Cook is to contact labour court chairman Kevin Duffy to try to arrange an emergency court hearing tomorrow to resolve the bitter dispute over the travel company's move to close down two branches in Dublin with the loss of over 40 jobs.

Gerry Doherty of the TSSA, which represents the 40 staff seeking an improved redundancy offer, said that, at meetings in London late last week, Thomas Cook management said conciliation talks at the Labour Relations Commission tomorrow would "not be convenient".

The company has offered redundancy compensation of five weeks' pay per year of service, while the TSSA's position is that it wants eight weeks.

Doherty also said staff are still on paid 'gardening leave' until next Saturday when the redundancy notices kick-in. But he said he believed the company wants to let the "publicity circus" die down first which, the union claimed, has spread to offices in Australia and Belgium.

Last week huge media attention surrounded the staff's sit-in at the Thomas Cook offices. Thirty people were subsequently arrested for contempt of court, including 26-year-old Avril Boyne, who had to be taken from garda custody to hospital, where she subsequently gave birth to a baby girl she named Chelsea. "I pleaded with her [Boyne] to go home during the sit-in but she wouldn't go," said Doherty.

The union hired a camel to protest outside the local church of the company's millionaire Spanish boss, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, while a pig was paraded down O'Connell Street at the height of the sit-in.

The union claims protests outside Thomas Cook offices have spread to Belgium and Australia.

Gerry Doherty said that at the meetings in London, the union threatened to bring little Chelsea Boyne along to a fresh protest unless the company talked to the union about redundancy compensation.