My thoughts and sympathies are currently with the 1,000 Thomas Cook employees in Peterborough who this week learned that they are losing their jobs, writes MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes in her weekly PT column.
This is an iconic British business who made Peterborough their home decades ago and since then have employed thousands of residents and become a staple of our local economy.
Having worked for Thomas Cook myself, I am acutely aware of the sense of community that was fostered at their headquarters. It was a fantastic place to work, and my time there broadened my horizons. A few of my former colleagues were still working there up until the news broke that the company had collapsed.
I feel great sadness for the employees and families whose lives have become more precarious due to the collapse and are currently worrying about their next mortgage payments, or Christmas presents for their children. This is the real life impact of such an industry staple disappearing overnight.
What gives me hope, however, is the fantastic response from individuals and local businesses in response to the collapse of Thomas Cook.
So many local organisations have reached out to offer support. For example, Peterborough United have offered Thomas Cook employees free tickets to their match against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, while Peterborough Cars have offered free taxi rides to interviews for those who are losing their jobs.
There are countless examples of local businesses advertising that they are hiring on social media in response to the collapse, with the local press amplifying these opportunities as they arise. A Facebook group has even been set up so that all new job opportunities are easy to find and accessible.
This truly is Peterborough at its best. The community spirit and solidarity shown to those whose lives have been rocked by the Thomas Cook collapse has been the one shining light in what has been a devastating week for many in the city.
I have written to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, demanding an urgent meeting with himself and Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to discuss how the impact on the livelihoods of Peterborough’s Thomas Cook employees can be minimised.
The Government must ensure that they offer deeds, not words, to the people in Peterborough and across the country who woke up to the news that they no longer have a job on Monday.
Another issue that I am astounded by is the sheer amount that Thomas Cook bosses paid themselves in bonuses in the years before the collapse. In my view, it is totally unacceptable that around £50 million of bonuses have been rewarded in recent years, especially now that thousands of workers across the country face redundancy.
I agree with Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell when he says that they have a moral responsibility to return these rewards for failure to those who will be struggling in the coming months.
If any Thomas Cook workers in Peterborough would like to contact me, please get in touch at email@example.com.