UK offers help for 9,000 Thomas Cook staff

Friday, 27 September 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

British Government officials and embassy staff (R) assist passengers left stranded after the collapse of British travel firm Thomas Cook, at Punta Cana’s international airport, in the Dominican Republic, on September 23, 2019.  Erika SANTELICES / AFP 

LONDON (AFP): Thousands of UK staff who lost their jobs after the sudden collapse of holiday giant Thomas Cook will be offered assistance, Britain said Wednesday.

The Conservative government, alongside the Civil Aviation Authority regulator, is already rushing to fly home 150,000 stranded UK holidaymakers.

At the same time, it has also sought to offer help to the 9,000 UK-based employees who were left without a job. In total, some 22,000 staff around the world were left jobless.

Some of the workforce has been retained to help repatriate thousands of stranded passengers from abroad, but many have already been made redundant. Debt-plagued Thomas Cook, which struggled against fierce online competition for years and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a recent drop in bookings, declared bankruptcy Monday after failing to secure fresh funds.

“In addition to supporting passengers, we have been working across government to ensure the 9,000 former Thomas Cook employees in the UK and those overseas receive the support that they need as well,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told parliament in a statement on Wednesday.

“The decision by Thomas Cook’s Group Board has been deeply upsetting for employees who are losing their jobs,” said Shapps.

Britain’s jobcentres are now in close contact with Thomas Cook’s liquidators.

The government has also established a task force that will “address the impact on employees and local communities” of the company’s collapse, Shapps said.

“This will help to attempt to overcome barriers to attending training, securing a job and self-employment – such as providing childcare costs, tools, work clothes and travel costs,” he said.

Meanwhile, London’s massive repatriation plan for stranded holidaymakers is expected to take two weeks. About 30,000 people were flown home on Monday and Tuesday, according to the CAA.