Travel firms have thrown a lifeline to Thomas Cook staff made jobless as a result of Thomas Cook’s collapse.
In total, 9,000 UK staff have lost their jobs. It is understood around 4,000 staff were employed in 563 Thomas Cook shops.
Since news broke of Thomas Cook’s collapse in the early hours of Monday, scores of travel companies have invited Thomas Cook staff to get in touch. Travel recruitment firms have also been inundated with calls from Thomas Cook employees desperate to find work.
High-street agencies Hays Travel North West and Miles Morgan Travel and homeworking companies Travel Counsellors, Not Just Travel and Holidaysplease.co.uk were among those to urge Thomas Cook staff to apply for jobs.
Tui, the UK’s largest travel agency, has arranged a jobs fair at its Luton headquarters on Tuesday.
We are sorry to learn of the Thomas Cook news. We really feel for everyone affected by this announcement – customers on holiday, anyone due to travel with them and of course their employees. We will be holding a recruitment fair at our Luton Office for people who are impacted. pic.twitter.com/77BYC8S0et
— TUI Jobs UK (@TUIJobsUK) September 23, 2019
Hays Travel North West has 36 branches and is targeting 50. Managing director Don Bircham said: “We’ve just opened in Oldham and we’ll be opening Shrewsbury soon. There are opportunities coming up as we expand up the M6 corridor. We’ve recruited a lot of ex-Thomas Cook staff recently and they always come with great training and knowledge. I hope it’s not seen as opportunistic, but we can offer a route back into the industry for these talented agents.”
Similarly, Miles Morgan, owner of miniple Miles Morgan Travel, said: “We are still looking to expand and looking for great people, therefore we are really keen to talk to Thomas Cook people. A lot of our staff used to work for Thomas Cook so there is a lot of sentiment among our team.”
East of England-based agency chain Premier Travel said it would recruit former Thomas Cook staff “where we can”. Director Paul Waters said: “There are a lot of talented and passionate people out there.”
Travel Counsellors called on employees to get in touch if they were interested in homeworking.
CEO Steve Byrne said: “This is a very difficult, emotional time for many people, made worse by the financial uncertainty caused by losing their income. Travel Counsellors is waiving the joining and management fees for new Travel Counsellors with leisure travel experience joining from Thomas Cook’s retail division. In such trying times for so many people, it’s simply the right thing to do.”
Travel Counsellors is running Thomas Cook ‘care events’ across the UK, including Peterborough, Nottingham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Belfast.
Chief commercial officer Kirsten Hughes said: “As an industry we must come together to offer support to these people and focus on helping those affected. We are also here to offer advice to the Thomas Cook staff who will unfortunately be facing an uncertain future at this time, and would urge these people to get in touch with our careers team to chat about their options.”
Not Just Travel and The Travel Franchise, launched a homeworking package to help Cook employees. It includes an express training programme with drastically reduced entry costs. The company has two ‘Discovery Events’ on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in London and Manchester.
Co-founder Steve Witt said: “It will be a ready-made, fast retraining solution where they no longer have to worry about their future. We believe Thomas Cook employees can enjoy a bright future with us, and look forward to welcoming them to our family.”
Holidaysplease.co.uk urged staff to apply for office sales positions or homeworking roles. If a number of people from the same area applied successfully the company said it would fund the set up of a new office, rather than staff having to relocate to its Birmingham offices, and allowing colleagues to stay working together.
Director Charles Duncombe said: “Obviously this is a difficult time for staff at Thomas Cook but we hope that many will be welcomed with open arms not just by ourselves but many other travel companies as well.
“It would be a travesty to lose people from travel who have worked so hard to build up such an iconic brand. We have a lot of vacancies at the moment and so hopefully we can become a new home for many of these well respected staff.”
Giles Hawke, Cosmos and Avalon Waterways’ chief executive, said it was looking to fill contact team vacancies as it gears up for peaks. He added: “There is a horrendous personal impact for staff.”
Cruise line MSC Cruises also urged Thomas Cook staff to get in touch about 15 vacancies currently available in the line’s UK office.
UK & Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said the roles were predominantly in departments such as contact and customer service. “We are going to be flexible,” he said, adding he would consider homeworkers “if we find the right people who cannot commute to head office [in Uxbridge]. We will stay united during this terribly tough period.”
Online travel agency Cruise 118 is urging Cook staff to join one of four two-hour workshops on October 4 at its Chorley HQ. Interested agents can apply for a place via its Facebook page.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has also contacted the HR team at Thomas Cook about vacancies available at its companies. “We will be doing everything we can to support candidates through the recruitment process,” said a spokesman.
C&M Travel Recruitment has set up a dedicated email helpline, email@example.com, with advice and information for Thomas Cook staff looking for new jobs. It also has an open day on October 1 at its London offices offering one-to-one career advice.
Director Barbara Kolosinska said: “If there is any good that can come from this awful situation, it is that there are currently many excellent opportunities out there because the industry has been suffering from a shortage of quality candidates for some time.”
She urged staff to be proactive and prioritise updating their CVs and LinkedIn profiles given the high number of staff looking for jobs at the same time.
Travel Trade Recruitment sales director Claire Muge reported a surge in calls from Cook staff. She said it would be a “massive challenge” to get everyone a job but said the company was urging recruiters to consider Cook staff.
She said: “We have had a lot of people on the phone who are very upset and we’ve been giving them advice. Hopefully there are jobs out there for them. We want companies to be open-minded rather than lose these people out of the industry. It will be very competitive, but it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.”
Jenny Jackson, homeworker for Classic Travel, set up a new recruitment group on Facebook group Travel Agent Rants and Raves around half an hour after Thomas Cook failed to support staff.
She said: “We want the ex-Cook staff to know we care and have not been abandoned. A mixture of people have been coming on the group to help and offer support for jobs. I was worried about being insensitive but people have been really appreciative.”
Inspire is waiving its homeworking set up fee for all staff from Thomas Cook, Freedom Travel Group and Personal Travel Agents. Business development manager Ivrie Cohen said the aim was to add extra regional training opportunities “to get people back into the workplace as soon as possible”.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook staff have been told they can apply to the Insolvency Service for redundancy and other payments if they have an employment contract and live in England, Scotland or Wales but not Northern Ireland.