Stansted: Thomas Cook crew back industrial action

THOMAS Cook cabin crew based at 10 UK airports, including Stansted, have voted in principle in favour of industrial action over plans by the travel group to axe nearly 500 jobs from its airline operation.

The Unite union, which represents 1,150 out of a total Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew workforce of around 1,800, will meet today discuss the next move, which could include a ballot on strike action.

Talks between Unite and Thomas Cook management over the company’s plans to cut 498 jobs have broken down, with no agreement over improved redundancy terms sought by the union.

Thomas Cook is planning to reduce the size of its aircraft fleet and abolish the rank of assistant cabin manager.

In a consultative ballot, a total of 475 cabin crew voted in favour of industrial action, with 53 against. There were six spoilt ballot papers.

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.”

Unite is calling on the company to improve on its current policy of two weeks per year’s service redundancy pay to a minimum of three weeks per year, plus a lump sum payment of �5,000.

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

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook Airlines said the company had entered into a 90-day consultation with employees in September following a proposal to reduce its airline fleet from 41 to 35 aircraft. These proposals included “the appropriate reduction” in the number of roles required to operate these six aircraft.

“We’re committed to continuing meaningful consultation with our people, their representatives and Unite as we look for opportunities to reduce the potential number of job losses,” she added.