The union representing Thomas Cook retail staff says the liquidator for the failed operator has paid out more than £18 million in “interim” redundancy payments.
General secretary of the TSSA union Manuel Cortes said he pressed ministers and representatives for the liquidator at a meeting of the government’s Thomas Cook “taskforce” in Manchester on Wednesday (2 October).
The taskforce comprises a handful of government departments, as well as those managing Cook’s affairs after the 178-year-old operator collapsed last Monday (23 September).
The TSSA has urged the liquidator to pay members what they they are owed as quickly as possible, with some facing financial strife. The union dipped into its benevolent fund this week to offer Cook members £300 each in hardship pay.
“I am pleased to say the liquidator told me they have now processed 99% of the 5,000 claims they’ve had for redundancy payments,” said Cortes. “They have made interim payments totalling more than £18 million, with more to follow.”
However, Cortes said the payments covered only what was due in redundancy, adding a “significant number” of ex-Cook employees were yet to apply for redundancy. “It’s vital they do so as quickly as possible,” he stressed.
“Those who were dismissed without notice or consultation have a legal claim for compensation and we have asked the liquidator not to contest such claims. This will result in payments being made to our members in a more timely fashion and without having to resort to litigation.
“Of course, if they don’t, we will take legal action on behalf of our members at no cost to them which shows yet again the benefit of being part of our TSSA union family. The liquidator has agreed to consider our request and respond to our union in writing.”
Cortes has challenged the liquidator to put its assurances in writing.
He also revealed a support and wellbeing programme for ex-Cook staff would be kept going by the liquidator until the end of the month.
It is understood in excess of 1,500 former Cook staff are assisting the liquidator wind up the company, and with the CAA’s repatriation effort.