Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson has called for a public inquiry into the collapse of Thomas Cook after it was revealed that governments across Europe had stepped in to offer support while the UK government allowed the operator to fold.
The MP said it was a disgrace that 9,000 members of staff in the UK, including many Sefton Central constituents, faced going without pay this month while German, Spanish and Scandanavian subsidiaries continued after last-minute support from their governments.
 

The MP said parts of the business could have been saved and in fact should have been in order to help bring stranded holidaymakers homes. The cost of the company’s collapse, he said, could be as much as £1.2bn when taking into account the costs of repatriation and the payouts that would be needed to compensate those whose holidays had been cancelled.

Constituents have reported to the MP that there was some excellent work going on at Thomas Cook with regards staff wellbeing, which would now be lost.

The MP said: “Thousands of staff, including many in my constituency, face not being paid this month, while many of the company’s executives have walked straight into jobs with subsidiaries across Europe. Once again the bosses have walked away with their earnings intact while the hard working staff on the ‘shop floor’ suffer. 

“What I am hearing is that the airline part of the business at least could have been saved. The company was doing great things with staff wellbeing and support. That is how a company builds productivity and ultimately becomes successful. Now that has been lost.

“The Germans and Scandanavians saved their parts of the airline. The Turkish and Spanish governments wanted to provide a loan – the UK government should have been talking to them. The collapse of Thomas Cook will devastate the tourist industry in these countries . The knock-on effect will be that there will be less capacity for British holidaymakers to travel abroad, which will lead to price increases.  Everybody loses.

“Any inquiry into Thomas Cook must be public and question the government’s decision not to step in with a short-term loan to help parts of the business survive. 

“In the past, airlines such as Air Berlin have received state support in the shape of government loans which they have then used to turn the business around and ultimately repay the loan, while continuing to employ thousands of people. Why didn’t our government do that for Thomas Cook?”

The Government last week announced a “fast-track” inquiry into the conduct of the company’s bosses. The Insolvency Service is to investigate the decision of the world’s oldest travel firm to cease trading “with immediate effect” after rescue talks failed.

The Department for Transport said Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom would write to the Insolvency Service “to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation”. The DfT added: “The investigation will also consider the conduct of the directors.”

The company’s 563 high street shops, including in Formby, Maghull and Crosby, have closed. 

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