Union leader's challenge to 'apologetic' boss of collapsed holiday firm Thomas Cook

A union leader has issued a challenge to the former boss of collapsed holiday giant Thomas Cook.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 11:46 am
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA.

The gauntlet has been thrown down to Peter Fankhauser, the former chief executive of Thomas Cook, who has apologised for the demise of the 178-year-old-company.

Now Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the travel workers union TSSA, has demanded that Mr Fankhauser show he is really sorry by ensuring he appears before a Parliamentary inquiry into the firm's collapse due to be held by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.

Thomas Cook went into liquidation on September 23 with debts reported at £1.7 billion and the loss of 21,000 jobs, of which 9,000 were in the UK including about 1,000 at its offices in Westpoint, Lynch Wood, Peterborough.

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Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser, left, with Chris Mottershead, former UK managing director for Thomas Cook, opening the new offices at Westpoint, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, in September 2016.

Mr Cortes said: “Mr Fankhauser has the cheek to say he is heartbroken about the collapse of Thomas Cook but not half as heartbroken as our members who have lost their jobs because of his mismanagement.

"Unlike employees he walks away having been paid millions of pounds. It’s our members who are paying the price for his greed and inability to properly run Thomas Cook.

“If he is sincerely sorry for what has happened while he was at the helm then he will have no problem appearing in front of the Parliamentary inquiry by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee into Thomas Cook’s demise.”

In interviews with a number of Sunday newspapers, Mr Fankhauser, who earned £8.4 million, in salary and bonuses during his five year tenure at Thomas Cook, said he had worked hard for the company and it was not his intention for the business to fail.

Some MPs have called on him to pay back some of his earnings but Mr Fankhauser said he had already lost £4.1 million of bonuses paid in shares that are now worthless.

Mr Fankhauser told the Sunday Times he felt responsible "for our people, for customers and suppliers who are struggling.

"I am deeply sad and apologetic. It is a devastation, I take it very personally.

He added: "I threw everything of me into it for the last three months. I don't think we as a company did anything wrong."

But Mr Cortes said: "The facts speak far louder than Mr Fankhauser's weak pathetic denials.

"The truth is he is the fat cat who oversaw the collapse of a company that had been with us for almost 200 years.

“He may claim he’s not a fat cat but that simply does not stand up to scrutiny."