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Thomas Cook shops saved

Unite welcomes move but warns of more job losses in airline’s wider supply chain
Hajera Blagg, Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Unite has welcomed the news that all 555 Thomas Cook shops have been bought by rival Hayes Travel, potentially saving 2,500 jobs.


The independent travel firm’s owner John Hayes noted that while it was too early to give definite guarantees over each and every job, he said “it is certainly our intention to take on all the staff; to welcome them back”.


Hayes Travel’s purchase will significantly grow the firm from the 190 shops it owns now and 1,900 staff it currently employs. The firm said the purchase will give the firm a presence in areas where it has little or none, such as in Scotland and Wales.


In a statement, Hayes Travel told Thomas Cook workers, “you can be assured that we will be doing our utmost to build upon all that was good about the much-loved Thomas Cook brand”.


Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland called the announcement “clearly good news for the workers concerned and the communities the shops serve”, but said it “throws into question the government’s entire strategy with regards to Thomas Cook”.


“The sale of the shops clearly demonstrates that various parts of the business were viable,” she said.


“The Thomas Cook airline was not only viable but was profit making. Yet the government made no attempt to allow the airline to continue to fly. Instead it was placed into compulsory liquidation with the loss of 4,000 jobs,” Holland added.


“Given the latest developments it is clear that the government’s assessment that providing any financial assistance would risk ‘throwing good money after bad’ has been proven to be entirely false.


“The government should look again at the UK Thomas Cook airline and in doing so call a halt to the insolvency process. This would then allow there to be a proper and thorough examination of what action can be taken to find employment opportunities for Thomas Cook’s airline staff.”


News of the purchase of Thomas Cook shops comes a day after Unite shed light on the domino effect precipitated by the firm’s collapse that’s now resulting in job losses in the supply chain.


This week Aviator, which undertook ground handling operations for Thomas Cook at Manchester airport, has announced it is preparing to go into administration and will cease trading on October 22 with the loss of 351 jobs.


It is understood too that ground handlers Swissport at Bristol and Menzies at Gatwick have announced potential redundancies – again in response to Thomas Cook’s collapse.


“The scale of additional job losses in the supply chain will significantly add to the numbers of losses in the airline itself,” warned Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson.


“The potential job losses in the supply chain highlights why the government’s failure to support the airline in particular, which was profitable and which had five potential bidders, was an act of economic vandalism.


“Inevitably the taxpayer will end up paying more in redundancy payments and other legal claims as well as benefits for workers who may struggle to find new work, than was needed to keep the airline flying while a long-term solution was sort.”


Richardson added, “Unite will fight for every one of our members jobs, we will seek to keep redundancies to an absolute minimum and if there are job losses we will ensure that those affected receive every penny they are entitled to.”


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