There were tearful scenes today as hundreds of former Thomas Cook employees, reeling from the shock at the firm’s sudden collapse, gathered for an emergency Unite meeting in Manchester.
Cabin crew staff described relying on the kindness of other airline employees to get them looked after and flown home after they were stranded as a far afield as Cuba and Orlando after Thomas Cook imploded last week.
Emotions were running high at the meeting – called to inform members of what they are entitled to, the legal support Unite will use to help them get it and details on other forms of assistance the union is providing – after it was confirmed that wages will not be paid this month.
The workers were due to have received their monthly pay on Monday however the Insolvency Service, which is dealing with the break-up of the company, has confirmed they will not be paid and will instead become creditors of Thomas Cook. It is now unclear when they will receive their pay.
Some cabin crew have lost the equivalent of nearly seven weeks wages when fly pay and commission are taken into account.
“I’ve lost my job, I was supposed to be going on holiday on Monday, I’ve lost that. I’ve got a wedding that I’ve had to cancel. I’m in the process of buying a house and the mortgage offer has been revoked,” said Unite member David Feeny, who worked as Thomas Cook cabin crew for more than 12 years.
“We need help with money as quickly as possible. This has all happened within days of our payday. We’ve got no money to pay for our bills, people have got no money to pay for their mortgages. We’ve got one girl who’s pregnant and her husband works for us as well. It’s a big thing, we’re all panicking about money now.”
Fellow cabin crew Valeria Andrews, who also worked at the firm for more than a dozen years, is moving back in with her parents.
She said, “It’s stressful and frustrating. There’s no way I’m going to be able afford to pay the bills this month. Even if I do get a job I’m not going to be paid until a month later. My mum and dad don’t have the cash to support me – I’ll be relying on credit cards.”
The workers directly blame the government for allowing the company to collapse into compulsory liquidation.
There is particular anger that the profitable Thomas Cook airline was allowed to collapse, while the company’s airline subsidiaries in Germany, Scandinavia and Spain have been given assistance by their respective governments to protect the companies and safeguard jobs.
Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said, “The workers who should have been paid have received nothing and have to still somehow pay mortgages, rent, bills and food. While other European countries acted to preserve airlines, the UK government allowed the entire company to crash.”
Hundreds of Thomas Cook workers will vocalise their anger at the government’s failure to step in and save jobs during a protest at the Conservative party conference in Manchester this Monday (September 30).
Unite regional secretary for the North West Ritchie James said, “Thomas Cook workers feel let down and abandoned by the government. The protest will demonstrate to the government and the Conservative party the workers anger over the decisions that have been made and which have wrecked their livelihoods.”
The protest will take begin at Mount Street and Peter Street, behind the Manchester Library, in Manchester on Monday, September 30, at 10am.
You can show your support to Thomas Cook workers by signing Unite’s petition here.