The TSSA union has hailed a ruling on redundancy payouts for former Thomas Cook staff, which could allow hundreds of them to claim in excess of £4,000 each following the historic operator’s 2019 failure.
An employment tribunal has found against Cook over its failure to consult 1,500 staff employed across the operator’s London, Manchester and Peterborough offices, who were made redundant without prior warning or consultation when Cook collapsed on 23 September 2019, the union said on Tuesday (16 March).
"Legally, Thomas Cook should have started a consultation process with TSSA at least 45 days before making anyone redundant," said the union. "The company completely failed to do so, instead making staff redundant with immediate effect."
Working with specialist law firm Morrish Solicitors, the union has secured a judgment against Cook for a protective award, with the tribunal awarding 90 days’ pay for each affected employee – the maximum award possible.
It means up to 1,500 former Cook head office staff working across the operator’s UK retail central operations and retail support, its contact centre, and corporate and group functions may now be entitled to make a claim.
Those covered by the judgment can seek up to eight weeks’ pay from the government’s Insolvency Service, which guarantees some of the protective award compensation from the National Insurance Fund.
Awards are capped at 2019 rates, £525 a week, meaning former Cook employees could claim as much as £4,200 over the coming weeks.
The Cook name and intellectual property was acquired by Chinese tourism giant Fosun following Cook’s collapse. It has since been relaunched as an OTA.
"This is very good news indeed, I’m delighted for our members and all those who were failed by both Thomas Cook and the government," said Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, which represented Cook staff.
"Our union has fought for our members at Thomas Cook all the way – and this judgment shows we have been justified.
"Our members endured harsh treatment from the start, not only through the actions of the company, but at the hands of a government that failed to step in to save this cornerstone of our high streets when it made perfect sense to do so."
Daniel Kindell, partner at Morrish Solicitors, added he hoped the tribunal decision would give ex-Cook employees "some sense of justice".
"Unfortunately, time and again I see consultation obligations flouted in cases of insolvency, leaving staff unemployed at the drop of a hat," said Kindell. "Such an approach should not go unchallenged."
Former Cook employees who are TSSA members can contact the union to seek an award.