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Thomas Cook staff prepare to be out of pocket on first payday since collapse

Cabin manager Blakey Jones said the ‘general consensus’ with staff is that they will not receive their wages on Monday.

Empty Thomas Cook check-in desks at Gatwick Airport in Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)
Empty Thomas Cook check-in desks at Gatwick Airport in Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)

By Emma Bowden, PA

Thomas Cook staff left in limbo are preparing to go without their wages on Monday – which should have been their payday – following the collapse of the travel giant.

Around 9,000 staff in the UK were left jobless in the early hours of Monday morning after the business failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

Cabin manager Blakey Jones, who has worked for Thomas Cook in Bristol for six years, said staff were unaware of the troubles plaguing the firm until last week.

“On Monday morning, we received an email to say they tried everything they could but the talks had failed, and that was all we got,” the 36-year-old told the PA news agency.

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Mr Jones (second from right) with fellow Thomas Cook staff this summer (Blakey Jones/PA)

“I don’t think there’s been a lot of real input from anybody to tell us what’s going on. It was like, ‘We couldn’t come to an agreement, that’s it, the end’.

“I think the general consensus was it would go into administration, we’d have a couple of months of cost-cutting while they had that extra time to try and find a buyer, and then Thomas Cook airlines would survive and we would carry on.

“Maybe it would be split up, maybe it would get sold off, who knew, but we all thought that it would survive.

“Nobody expected it to go under like this.”

The father of one said he had been going through his finances and was in contact with his bank while he desperately searches for a similar job role with another airline.

“We should be paid on the 30th – this coming Monday – but we’ve got no idea. The general consensus amongst us is that obviously we won’t get paid,” he said.

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Many Thomas Cook staff assisted with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) repatriation programme, including Mr Jones (Blakely Jones/PA)

Mr Jones, from Gloucester, who was a cabin crew manager for short-haul flights within Europe, praised Thomas Cook passengers for their support since the firm ceased trading in the early hours of Monday morning.

He said: “We almost feel like we’ve let the passengers down, even though it’s not our fault, because their holidays have been ruined.

“Through no fault of our own, it has been taken away and they’re not having the holiday experience that we want to give them.”

He added: “Up until a week ago I was so happy at Thomas Cook, I would have been there for the rest of my career, without a doubt. I wouldn’t have left for anything.”

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Thomas Cook check-in desks were left empty at Gatwick Airport on Monday after the firm failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal (Steve Parsons/PA)

More than 100 staff announced on Friday they have backed legal action against the travel firm in a bid to recover thousands of pounds of lost wages.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said in a statement to PA that the loss of jobs was a result of “the Government’s lack of initiative”.

“Thomas Cook staff weren’t wealthy, many of them lived pay cheque to pay cheque,” he said.

“The fact that those who have been made redundant will not be paid on Monday is a huge blow.

“They will have to claim owed wages from the Insolvency Service, which will take weeks. Unite has urged the Government to directly intervene and speed up the process.

“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.”

Hundreds of Thomas Cook staff are anticipated to hold a demonstration at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday – the day they were due to receive their wages.

Dressed in their Thomas Cook uniforms, the workers will protest at the Government’s failure to intervene and cover the £200 million funding gap.

PA

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