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‘Grim Christmas’

Thomas Cook workers face Xmas misery, new survey reveals
Barckley Sumner, Thursday, December 12th, 2019

A confidential survey of over 2,000 members of Unite who were formerly employed on Thomas Cook’s airline has revealed that most are facing a grim Christmas.


Ten weeks after Thomas Cook collapsed just 21 per cent of workers are back in full-time permanent employment and even when work has been secured many are now earning far less than previously and with hours that are far less family friendly.


With Christmas just over a fortnight away over 90 per cent of respondents are making cutbacks with just 10 per cent planning to have “Christmas as usual”.


The biggest cutback include less money spent on adult presents (79 per cent), less money spent on children’s presents (53 per cent), less money spent on food (63 per cent) and heating their homes (38 per cent).


As a result Unite is calling for the next government to immediately implement the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review, which if they had been implemented prior to the company’s collapse, would have allowed the highly profitable airline to keep flying and would have saved thousands of jobs.


Unite is also calling for the completion of the Business, Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee report into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for a further inquiry by the transport select committee into the actions of the Department for Transport in its refusal to prevent the collapse of the airline.


The problems faced by many Thomas Cook workers have been greatly exacerbated by difficulties they have experienced trying to access Universal Credit and or Job Seekers Allowance.


Respondents have recorded how they were told to apply for the wrong benefit, resulting in claims being cancelled and restarted, creating substantial delays on top of the hardship caused by Universal Credit payments in arrears. In other cases claims were cancelled after the worker received some of the money they were owed after the company failed to pay the workforce for September.


Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said, “Thomas Cook airline workers are facing a grim Christmas because they were systemically failed by the previous Tory government.


“The government allowed a profitable airline to collapse into liquidation and then the workers who have paid taxes all their working lives have had to deal with complex procedures to get what they are owed and have even been blocked from claiming the benefits they are entitled to,” he added.


“Even the minority of workers who have secured permanent full time work are being paid far less than previously, and working hours that don’t fit as well with their family lives.


“The only positive which can emerge from this pit of human misery is if the next government takes immediate action to implement the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review which would have prevented Thomas Cook’s airline being forced into liquidation,” Holland added.


“Equally it is vital that not only is the BEIS inquiry into the collapse allowed to complete its work but there is a full investigation into the Department for Transport’s role in the company’s collapse.”


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