Thomas Cook staff demanded financial support from the government during a protest outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today (September 30).
Dozens of former staff, some wearing their uniforms, gathered outside the conference demanding that the government “pay us now” after their wages failed to go through on Monday.
Approximate 9,000 Thomas Cook staff lost their jobs last week after the world’s oldest travel firm went under.
Despite a £1.6bn blackhole in its finances, the firm’s 12 top bosses raked in more than £20m over the last five years.
Making the situation worse, the government allowed Thomas Cook to collapse, while the company’s airline subsidiaries in Germany, Scandinavia and Spain were given assistance by their respective governments to protect the companies and safeguard jobs.
Speaking outside the Tory party conference, Unite rep and cabin crew manager Martin Browne said that both he and his wife, Hayley, had lost their jobs on the same day.
Ludicrous management decisions
As well as blasting greedy bosses for making “stupid ludicrous management decisions”, Browne slammed the government for failing to act.
He said, “I accept they couldn’t have bailed out the entire company. But what you do expect is the government ministers to read the brief.
“Because we were profitable. The airline made £100m last year. We were on target to make another £100m this year. We’ve been the scapegoats.”
Browne added, “It needs to stop. This cannot happen again. Companies shouldn’t just go bust like that, with 21,000 people ending up on benefits and the cost of the repatriation.”
Unite regional coordinating officer Lawrence Chapple-Gill told protesters that the message being delivered to the Tories was “why haven’t you stepped into help as they did in other parts of the world, other parts of Thomas Cook?”.
He said, “This just the start of work we’ll be doing to support members from Thomas Cook. We’re doing everything we can from helping members claim their redundancy payments, getting their CVs written to lodging a protective award for a lack of consultation.
Support all the way
“This is just the start – we won’t treat workers like Thomas Cook did. We will support you all the way.”
The workers were also joined at the protest by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey and Labour MP Lucy Powell.
Burnham said, “Thousands of people in Greater Manchester woke up last week to the news that they didn’t have a job. And today they were expecting a pay cheque and of course it has not arrived.”
“(The government must) get payments made without any delay – so that’s both unpaid wages and redundancy, which is obviously a statutory service.
“I think they need to help us with regard to retraining if people want to retrain, but I think they also need to provide better answers – why did the German authorities save their airline, and why was the profitable UK airline allowed just to go to the wall?”
You can show your support to Thomas Cook workers by signing Unite’s petition here.