Published on Thursday, March 7, 2013

Unions slam Thomas Cook's 'slash and burn' policy

Union leaders representing Thomas Cook staff are today reeling with shock at the scale of the latest job cuts announced by the travel firm as part of its restructure.

The company is to shed 2,500 more staff - representing almost a fifth of its UK workforce - and close 195 shops plus its Accrington office.

Trade union Usdaw, which represents 1,200 members from the former Co-operative Travel and Midlands Co-op Travel business which joined Thomas Cook in 2010, said 119 of the stores earmarked for closure were formerly with the Co-op.

National Officer Sharon Ainsworth said: "We were well aware of the challenges that Thomas Cook have been facing in turning their UK business around, but the scale and severity of these redundancies will come as a real shock to our members.

"We will be using the 90-day consultation period to urge the business to look at every possible alternative to redundancy for these hardworking staff. Many of our members are long-serving and I believe they have a lot to offer Thomas Cook in helping the business to build a successful future."

Staff who will keep their jobs face changes to their terms and conditions as Thomas Cook said it was keen to renegotiate their contracts to achieve further cost efficiencies. It is looking at replacing store managers with cluster managers who will oversee several branches.

"Even those who are not at risk of redundancy are facing the prospect of cuts to their benefits packages, following a number of cost-cutting proposals which the business has put forward," said Ainsworth.

"We will be examining these proposals closely and will defend our members' interests throughout this uncertain time.

"We will be doing all we can to support all of our members during the difficult weeks and months ahead."

The TSSA travel union which represent Thomas Cook staff slammed the company for "slash and burn" policies.

TSSA travel union leader Manuel Cortes said: "We are shocked and angry at the scale of the job losses at Thomas Cook which now seems to be engaged in a race to the bottom of the travel market.

"This constant policy of slash and burn, with the axing of one in four  stores and the loss of 1,000 jobs, is simply self defeating.

"The company needs new products if it to come to come to terms with the age of the internet and prosper in the 21st century.

"That is the only way to stop this spiral of decline which repeated bad management decisions over the past five years has led them."

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