Plans to support Thomas Cook staff affected by the collapse of the travel company have been drawn up by the city-region’s authorities, including the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Growth Company.
Roughly 3,000 people were working for Thomas Cook in Greater Manchester, with more than 900 cabin crew helping 2.8 million travellers through Manchester Airport each year, a tenth of the airport’s passenger numbers.
From tomorrow, affected staff will be able to access advice and support via a single web portal - www.gmthomascook.com with accompanying contact email address email@example.com. One-to-one support will be made available via the website.
A taskforce featuring trades unions, Jobcentre Plus, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), local authorities and others has been set up within 24 hours of the business’s failure, signposting affected people to advice and support with the stated aim of assisting employees retrain or find new opportunities as soon as possible.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “My heart goes out to all those affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook. I have been at the airport today meeting staff representatives and I know this news has hit them very hard, leaving them without a job and in many cases three weeks’ pay.
“But we need to give people more than just warm words, which is why we have been working hard today to put in place practical support. The Greater Manchester family has been swift to respond and it’s good that a website and contact telephone number have been established where staff can log on, register and access practical support and information when it comes to next steps.”
The GMCA helped to co-ordinate a similar taskforce for those employees affected by the relocation of Shop Direct from Oldham to the East Midlands in 2018 – on that occasion more than 200 at-threat jobs were safeguarded and retained in Greater Manchester, with assistance provided to a further 1,400 people.
The new taskforce is currently working with Manchester Airport Group and other airlines who have the airport as a base to establish the current number of job vacancies, with discussions ongoing around a possible jobs fair for Thomas Cook employees.
Mark Hughes, Chief Executive of the Growth Company, added: “It’s undoubtedly an incredibly tough time for employees of Thomas Cook and all associated employers and industries. The Growth Company stands ready to support all those impacted by this very sad turn of events.
“The website and helpline are places which people can visit to find where they can establish their employment and redundancy rights, find out about organisations to contact to discuss job opportunities, money matters and much more besides.
“People who have worked for Thomas Cook for 20 years or more have in many cases not ever had to consider what a new career might look like and even where to begin job hunting. And the more we learn about the needs of those people affected, the more we can begin to ensure everything on the new website is useful and appropriate, because fundamentally we want to help as many people as quickly as possible access all the support they need and swiftly find new jobs.”
In addition to the website and email address, a helpline has been set up for Greater Manchester-based Thomas Cook employees: 0161 393 6443. Lines will be open from tomorrow morning, Monday to Friday, 8.00am until 8.00pm, and will connect employees straight to an advisor.