Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union has accused, the transport secretary Grant Shapps of treating thousands of Thomas Cook workers with contempt after it emerged he used the same script in parliament yesterday (Wednesday 25 September) as his predecessor Chris Grayling used for the collapse of Monarch in October 2017.

Lessons not learned

Unite is alarmed that the government failed to learn the lessons from Monarch’s collapse nor had it understood that Thomas Cook was in a very different situation.

Not only was Thomas Cook’s airline profitable, but the company turned down five offers for the airline business, which were rejected by the company’s directors as it would have resulted in the rest of the company being unviable.

Airline preserved

If Thomas Cook’s airline had been preserved then it would have saved 4,000 jobs and also avoided the need for taxpayers paying millions for the largest repatriation exercise since the Second World War.

Also three Thomas Cook subsidiaries, Condor (German airline), Thomas Cook Airline Scandinavia and Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics, have all received support from their national governments in order to preserve their business and allow them to continue flying. In the case of Condor it is also applying to take over some of Thomas Cook’s UK airline activity.

When Monarch collapsed in October 2017 it was recognised that existing laws governing the collapse of companies were inadequate and new measures should be introduced to allow companies to enter into a protected form of administration. This would allow them to keep functioning and help ensure a rescue package or allow for a managed break up.

Shapps failure

Unite assistant general secretary for transport Diana Holland said: “The revelation that Grant Shapps copied Chris Grayling’s Monarch statement in the Commons yesterday, demonstrates that he and the government have treated workers who lost their jobs without warning with contempt.

“The government has totally failed to understand the circumstances that Thomas Cook was facing.

“Other European governments had the ability and the inclination to step in and preserve Thomas Cook subsidiary airlines but the UK government through a mixture of ideology, ignorance and indifference failed to intervene and save the airline.

“At least 4,000 workers have lost their jobs because of the government’s failure to intervene and preserve a viable business.

“In the two years since Monarch’s demise the government has totally failed to learn the lessons and bring in effective laws which could have saved thousands of jobs.”


Notes to editors:

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.