Business

Thomas Cook staff forced to turn to family for cash

Abi Anderson with colleagues Shelley Matthews and Donna Kelly outside Downing Street.
Image caption Abi Anderson (centre) with colleagues Shelley Matthews and Donna Kelly outside Downing Street.

After 23 years with Thomas Cook, cabin crew member Abi Anderson learned over messaging app WhatsApp that last-ditch rescue talks to save the firm - and her job - had failed.

About 9,000 staff in the UK were left jobless when the business failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

Ms Anderson, like all former staff of the collapsed travel firm, was due to be paid on Monday for September, but did not receive it because the firm is in liquidation

"Luckily, I didn't pay my credit card bill last month, so I had the cash in my bank."

But now she'll have to turn to her mum for help. "The bank of mum will be coming to the rescue," she says.

Ms Anderson joined former colleagues Donna Kelly and Shelley Matthews, and dozens of other ex-Thomas Cook staff to deliver a petition to Downing Street signed by more than 50,000 people demanding answers about the firm's collapse. They are also urging an inquiry into where the money from the business has gone.

She blames the management, saying: "These people are supposed to be the best at what they do and they've let us all down."

"We need answers from them and - if there is something that isn't quite right - accountability for it."

Image caption Al White marched past Parliament with other former Thomas Cook staff.

Former Cabin manager Al White says he is angry that the firm's boss, Peter Fankhauser, was paid £8.3m in his five years at the top.

"We haven't got any money, we're literally just relying on friends, family [and] savings," he says.

"[Mr Fankhauser's] ok, we're not."

Shortly before it went under, Thomas Cook turned to the UK government for a £250m rescue package. But the government turned it down arguing that the troubled travel company would not survive even with a bailout.

But Mr White thinks that was a mistake.

"If we'd been bailed out we could have paid money back like it was when the government bailed the banks out."

Instead, he says, that the government will now pick up a large share of the bill for repatriating holidaymakers and reimbursing travellers whose holidays have been cancelled.

Image caption Alessandro Rossinelli is worried that Thomas Cook's failure may hurt his new wife's visa application.

Former cabin crew member, Alessandro Rossinelli, said £250m was "peanuts" for the government, while 9,000 families were affected by the collapse.

He got married earlier this year and fears that, without a job, he may not be able to sponsor his new wife's application for a UK visa.

"I support her so I don't know if… they'll reject it," he says.

Image caption Jo Cooke and Colleen Gibson say they believed assurances from Thomas Cook management that the firm would survive.

Former store manager Jo Cooke worries that she misled customers about the health of the company in the days before it collapsed.

Her colleague Colleen Gibson said they were told there would be "a lot of noise", but that "it would be OK".

"I don't know if we were just gullible or naive but we really believed that."

In a statement, the government said: "The collapse of Thomas Cook is devastating for those who have lost their jobs and affected holidaymakers and the government will do all it can to support them."

"Unfortunately a government bailout would not have solved the company's problems, which are well-documented."

Thomas Cook staff have been told to apply for their salary and redundancy related payments from the Insolvency Service's Redundancy Payment Service (RPS).

The Insolvency Service has said claims would be paid within 14 days of receipt of information, but "special arrangements are being put in place to pay sooner if practicable to do so".

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