A survey of Thomas Cook’s airline workers has revealed that six weeks after the company collapsed, they are struggling to find work and suffering severe financial hardship.

In total 93 per cent of respondents to the survey have not yet found work with another airline while two thirds (67 per cent) have not secured any form of employment. Just 10 per cent of the affected workforce have secured full-time permanent employment of any form.

Airline jobs lacking

The figures for employment in the airline industry are especially stark as 42 per cent report that they have secured interviews in the sector but this hasn’t been transformed into jobs.

This tallies with feedback from Unite’s membership that there have been very few job opportunities in the airline sector, with companies offering recruitment opportunities, only taking very small numbers of recruits, with the feeling recruitment campaigns were “little more than PR opportunities.”

Universal credit dire

Of members who have applied for universal credit just 19 per cent have received a payment. Those who have still received nothing report a litany of problems including being wrongly advised about what to apply for and being penalised and having to restart the process due to receiving redundancy pay and notice pay.

This has further increased hardship as following a Universal Credit interview there is a five week delay before benefits are paid.

Workers bitter

The workers at Thomas Cook’s airline are particularly bitter about their experiences as the airline was highly profitable and there were five potential buyers for the business. Despite this the government allowed the airline to collapse into compulsory liquidation along with the rest of the group.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, was the union at Thomas Cook airline, alongside pilots union Balpa. Since the company’s collapse Unite has been providing assistance and training for the affected members to assist them in returning to employment, while also campaigning to ensure that a similar unnecessary collapse of an airline is never allowed to happen again.

Human misery

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland, said: “The survey demonstrates the human misery caused by the collapse of Thomas Cook.

“Highly skilled and dedicated workers, who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and without warning are finding it incredibly difficult to return to employment

“The struggle of workers to return to employment further highlights both the government’s failure to understand the nature of the Thomas Cook business and a complete absence of political will.

“The airline was extremely profitable and there were already potential buyers, interested in the business.

"This survey highlights the need for the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee to complete its inquiry into Thomas Cook and for the recommendations from the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review to be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.

“We must take the steps needed to prevent the shocking reality of a viable profitable airline being forced into compulsory insolvency with the terrible loss of jobs and the major cost of repatriating passengers.”


Notes to editors:

Over 300 Unite members took part in the online survey.

Thomas Cook went into compulsory administration on Monday 23 September 2019.

Grant Shapps refuses to apologise to Thomas Cook workers and remains in denial about government failures

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

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