Unite members fail to rule out Christmas action over redundancy plans

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Thomas Cook cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot that they wish to take industrial action over the company’s redundancy plans to axe 498 jobs.

Unite has about 1,150 members of the 1,800 cabin crew workforce and the ballot followed the break-down in talks with the management over its refusal to boost the redundancy terms.

Unite reps at Thomas Cook will meet in Manchester tomorrow to decide their future strategy – one option could be to go for a full industrial action ballot, which may include strike action.

Unite regional officer Mick Whitley said: “The overwhelming vote shows our members’ anger and should be a strong wake-up call for the management to return to the negotiating table with a fair offer.

“And until we have had the meeting tomorrow, Unite is not going to speculate about Christmas flights by Thomas Cook. The ball is very much in the management’s court – they need to come up with a realistic offer for those facing redundancy. They are a very profitable firm.”

A total of 475 voted in favour of industrial action, with 53 against. There were six spoilt ballot papers.

The cabin crews fly from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, and Stansted airports.

The cabin crew and pilots from Thomas Cook Belgium have told management that they will not operate flights for Thomas Cook UK, if industrial action takes place.

Before the consultative ballot, Unite negotiators had asked the company to put a ‘realistic’ voluntary severance package on the table, but the management had point blank refused to enhance its current policy of two weeks per year redundancy pay.

Unite had requested a minimum of three weeks per year, plus a lump sum payment of £5,000. The average cabin crew pay is £15,000-a-year.

Mick Whitley said: “The group made £320 million this year and it is paying out a fortune in bonuses and dividends, as well as sponsoring the Olympics.”

Thomas Cook flies long and short haul flights to worldwide holiday destinations, such as the Caribbean and the USA. The company wants to reduce the size of its fleet and eradicate the rank of assistant cabin manager.


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