Hundreds of Thomas Cook staff who unexpectedly lost their jobs when the company collapsed have been protesting outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today.
Workers who feel the government has let them down are waving placards with messages including: ‘Bankers bailed out, Thomas Cook kicked out’.
Around 9,000 people in the UK were left jobless on Monday last week when the world’s oldest travel firm went into liquidation over its debts. Many are angry that the government turned down a last ditch appeal to plug a £200 million debt shortfall needed to secure a rescue deal. The Civil Aviation Authority then went on to spend £100 million to save 150,000 stranded tourists in the biggest repatriation effort since the Second World War.
Disgruntled staff have gathered outside the Manchester Convention Centre today (Picture: PA) They say the ‘Government’s lack of initiative’ has contributed to them losing their jobs (Picture: PA) Staff are also fuming that the UK government has stood back while the firm’s airline subsidiaries in Spain, Germany and Scandinavia have been bailed out by their respective governments. Today was meant to be their payday, but many are still owed more than seven weeks of wages. The Insolvency Service, which is handling the break-up of Thomas Cook, has said workers will instead become creditors of the company but it is not clear how they will get their money back. Unite have urged the Government to directly intervene to speed up the process. The union’s regional secretary for the North West Ritchie James said: ‘Thomas Cook workers feel let down and abandoned by the government.
Former Thomas Cook cabin crew are furious that other country’s governments have bailed out subsidiaries (Picture: PA) The Government turned down a last-ditch request to plug a £200 million debt gap (Picture: PA) ‘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. Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson blamed the mass job losses on the ‘Government’s lack of initiative’. He said: ‘The workers who should have been paid today 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.’ ‘Thomas Cook staff weren’t wealthy, many of them lived pay cheque to pay cheque.
Pilots and cabin crew are angry at bosses for awarding themselves lavish bonuses while the company struggled (Picture: PA) Labour Manchester Central, Lucy Powell joined demonstrators this morning (Picture: PA) ‘The fact that workers in this part of the business lost their jobs is a direct result of the Government’s lack of initiative and failure to intervene. ‘Other governments in Europe did the right thing and these subsidiaries of Thomas Cook continue to fly.’ The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said he will join today’s protest along with the leader of the city’s council Richard Leese and Labour Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell. Some demonstrators have been seen holding signs saying ‘Tories out’ and others reading ‘Thomas Cook, Europe Flies, UK Crashes’. Anger is mounting over bosses awarding themselves with £50 million in bonuses while the 178-year-old company struggled to stay afloat.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps outside the venue today (Picture: Reuters)