Thomas Cook staff may have jobs saved after Hays buyout

KIND members of the community have rallied round staff and holiday makers affected by the collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook.

The Royton store was closed after it plunged into liquidation, putting the livelihoods of its staff on the line.But the Gin and Juice bar did its bit by putting on a night where people whose journeys were ruined could fill in their compensation forms for the Civil Aviation Authority.

It also offered free drinks for staff caught up in the collapse.

Its owner, Gill Taylor, spent most of her working life at Thomas Cook.

Jo Hewitt, former manager of the Thomas Cook store in Royton, said: “We have been so saddened by the recent collapse of Thomas Cook and the closure of our store.

“We would like to thank all our customers for their support over the years.”

Staff who faced losing their jobs may yet have them saved after a buyout.

Independent firm Hays took on the shops – including one at The Royton Centre on Rochdale Road – after the company plunged into liquidation.

Owners John and Irene Hays promised they would be re-opening all 555 high street stores as soon as possible under the name of Hays Travel.

They also confirmed they had hired 597 former Thomas Cook staff, with plans for another 2,500 across the UK.Thomas Cook ceased trading with immediate effect on September 23 after the travel firm was unable to pay £200million to its creditors.

But this deal raised hopes local staff may not find themselves out of work as a result.

Mr and Mrs Hays, managing director and group chair of Hays Travel, said: “Thomas Cook was a much-loved brand employing talented people.

“We look forward to working with many of them.”

News of the deal was well received by both trade unions and local politicians.

General secretary of the Unite union, Diana Holland also targeted the Government for its lack of action as the company lurched towards collapse.

She said: “This announcement is clearly good news for the workers concerned and the communities the shops serve.

“However the sale of the shops further throws into serious question the government’s entire strategy with regards to Thomas Cook.

“The sale of the shops clearly demonstrates that various parts of the business were viable.

“The Thomas Cook airline was not only viable but was profit making. Yet the government made no attempt to allow the airline to continue to fly.

“Instead it was placed into compulsory liquidation with the loss of 4,000 jobs.

“Given the latest developments it is clear that the government’s assessment that providing any financial assistance would risk ‘throwing good money after bad’ has been proven to be entirely false.

“The government should look again at the UK Thomas Cook airline and in doing so call a halt to the insolvency process.

“This would then allow there to be a proper and thorough examination of what action can be taken to find employment opportunities for Thomas Cook’s airline staff.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Mark Hughes, chairman of the GM Task Force that was set up in the wake of Thomas Cook’s collapse, welcomed the development.

Mr Burnham said: “The news that a large number of Thomas Cook jobs are in line to be saved by a takeover is obviously very welcome, though it is not yet clear how many of these roles will be based in the North West.

“The Greater Manchester family has worked incredibly hard in recent weeks to help all those affected by the collapse of the long-standing travel firm.

“A jobs fair at Manchester Airport attracted more than 1,000 attendees and around 50 employers – it was an excellent example of how Manchester Airports Group, the Growth Company, Transport for Greater Manchester, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and others are committed to doing the right thing by those people who find themselves suddenly without work.”

Mr Hughes added: “This is excellent news which will provide a much-needed lifeline to those Thomas Cook employees who worked across the company’s retail units in Greater Manchester and the North West.

“However, as a major centre of airline operations there is still much for us to do to ensure that ex-Thomas Cook employees from across all areas of the business continue to get the support they need, as well as those employees within the supply chain who are starting to feel the impact – not least those employed by grounds-handling firm Aviator which recently confirmed that it anticipates ceasing all operations at Manchester Airport later this month.”

For more information and for employment support and advice former Thomas Cook employees can contact the Greater Manchester task force by calling 0161 393 6443 or visiting the website
gmthomascook.com

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