Published on Monday, December 9, 2019

Former Thomas Cook Airlines staff 'face Christmas misery'

Only one in five former Thomas Cook airline workers are back in full-time jobs, according to union Unite.

The union says even those who have found work are earning 'far less' than they previously earned and are working hours that are 'far less family friendly'.

A confidential survey of over 2,000 members of Unite who used to work for Thomas Cook Airlines found 90% of respondents are making cutbacks with just 10% planning to have 'Christmas as usual'.

The biggest cutbacks include less money spent on adult presents (79%), less money spent on children's presents (53%), less money spent on food (63%) and heating their homes (38%).

Unite is calling for the next government to immediately implement the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review.

It says if these had been in place before Thomas Cook's collapse in September, the 'highly profitable' airline would have been able to keep flying, saving thousands of jobs.

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.

"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.

"Equally it is vital that not only is the Business, Energy Industrial Strategy 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."

Unite said problems faced by many Thomas Cook workers have been worsened by their difficulties trying to access Universal Credit and or Job Seekers Allowance.

Respondents complained they were told to apply for the wrong benefit, resulting in claims being cancelled and restarted, creating substantial delays.

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.

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