Employees of collapsed Thomas Cook received a total of £59 million in redundancy pay

Former staff of the collapsed Peterborough-based Thomas Cook received £59 million in redundancy pay between them, it has been revealed.

Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 5:00 am
Thomas Cook.

The payments were given to 8,281 ex-employees of the holiday giant, which had offices in Westpoint, Peterborough, after it was put into compulsory liquidation last September.

In addition, about 1,300 ex-Thomas Cook employees who registered with the Department of Work and Pensions to make a claim have now found alternative jobs.

Worldwide, it left 21,000 staff, including 9,000 in the UK with 1,000 plus in Peterborough, facing a bleak future.

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The figures have been released by the Thomas Cook taskforce, which has just been wound up after nine months’ work ensuring the wellbeing of the employees following the collapse of the 178-year-old company.

Made up of representatives of local authorities, trade associations, unions, Government ministers and MPs and chaired by representatives of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Work and Pensions, the taskforce sought to ease the impact of Thomas Cook’s insolvency on its staff and on local economies including Peterborough, where many ex-employees were based.

Its members sought to bring relevant knowledge of the situation and local business networks to find new opportunities for employees and relieve hardship where possible.

Across Peterborough, job fairs were staged to help the staff and many were linked to new employers and offered packages of support and other services through partners such as Opportunity Peterborough and local job centres.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor James Palmer, who was a member of the taskforce with Austen Adams, chairman of the authority business board, said: “I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to serve on this important Taskforce which has helped people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough affected by the unfortunate and shock closing of Thomas Cook to get back on their feet.

He added: “My support doesn’t end here.

“Since Covid 19 broke out, we have launched a range of measures including business funding, training and job matching.

“I urge everyone in the region to continue to access the resources available to help individuals and businesses maintain resilience during this challenging time.”

The collapse of Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest tour operator, left thousands of holiday makers stranded across the globe and set in motion the UK’s biggest repatriation of nationals since the Second World War.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the travel union TSSA, said: “Sadly, whilst the Thomas Cook taskforce has helped people find new jobs, it shouldn’t have been set up in the first place as the government should have intervened to save the holiday company as a going concern. That’s what the German, Spanish and Turkish governments did.

“The Prime Minister told us at the time that saving Thomas Cook would create a moral hazard.

“Frankly, what you need to question is the morality of politicians who allow thousands of workers to be made redundant and then use our money, taxpayers’ cash, to pay for the costs of there failure to act.

“Of course, that was the pre-Covid-19 days. Little talk now of moral hazard as millions are now sheltered from unemployment through the government’s job retention scheme.”