A confidential survey of over 2,000 members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, who were formerly employed on Thomas Cook’s airline has revealed that most are facing a grim Christmas.

Employment struggle

Ten weeks after Thomas Cook collapsed just 21 per cent of workers are back in full-time permanent employment and even when work has been secured many are now earning far less than previously and with hours that are far less family friendly.

With Christmas just over a fortnight away over 90 per cent of respondents are making cutbacks with just 10 per cent planning to have “Christmas as usual”.

Xmas gloom

The biggest cutback include less money spent on adult presents (79 per cent), less money spent on children’s presents (53 per cent), less money spent on food (63 per cent) and heating their homes (38 per cent).

As a result Unite is calling for the next government to immediately implement the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review, which if they had been implemented prior to the company’s collapse, would have allowed the highly profitable airline to keep flying and would have saved thousands of jobs.

Government failure

Unite is also calling for the completion of the Business, Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee report into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for a further inquiry by the transport select committee into the actions of the Department for Transport in its refusal to prevent the collapse of the airline.

The problems faced by many Thomas Cook workers have been greatly exacerbated by difficulties they have experienced trying to access Universal Credit and or Job Seekers Allowance.

Benefits misery

Respondents have recorded how they were told to apply for the wrong benefit, resulting in claims being cancelled and restarted, creating substantial delays on top of the hardship caused by Universal Credit payments in arrears. 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.

Systematic failure

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.

 “Even the minority of workers who have secured permanent full time work are being paid far less than previously, and working hours that don’t fit as well with their family lives.

 “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 BEIS 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.”


Notes to editors:

Over 290 former employees of Thomas Cook airline completed the survey

Thomas Cook workers still struggling to find work following airline’s collapse

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.