Workers rights- or rather, the current paucity of them- have once more been thrown into focus by the collapse of Thomas Cook. What rights we think we have are rendered valueless by corporate accounting practices.

There has rightly been widespread coverage of the plight of stranded holidaymakers, and some coverage of TC staff continuing to offer help and advice for free. Much less has been heard of TC staff also stranded, having to pay £10,000 in one case to get home from Las Vegas! Nor was there much reporting of TC staff being handed 4 months bill for unpaid hotel debts owed by he firm.

The law allows outrageous behaviour by employers in such situations; immediate redundancy, upper limits on wages due (even for work which has been completed!), loss of pensions should the company be without assets….Workers have little or no chance to recoup what they are owed, and the taxpayers, too, are burdened with picking up a very expensive tab for the collapse.

It would seem that Thomas Cook management had opportunity to act- there was a Turkish takeover discussed in August, but management declined the offer. And why did the UK government not get involved earlier? And now staff- wageless jobless and often suddenly in debt due to necessary repatriation – face losing their homes and untold further consequences. It is unlikely that shareholders will lose houses and pensions! Many will have spread the risk by investing in other companies; TUI and Jet2 share values rose by 6% in the aftermath of Cook’s collapse. Other companies also enjoyed a boost to share values. Workers MUST be able to demand a change to such immoral and unfair practices.

Trades Unions must be empowered to challenge the sharp practices of successive Tory governments. Trades Union rights are the bedrock of the new society promised by a Labour government. It is in our hands to vote for change, to vote for decency and morality, to vote for hope….to vote and promote Labour.

Paul Burns – Local Labour Party Campaigner

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