Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser’s denial of being a “fat cat” does not stand up to scrutiny, a staff union has claimed.
The general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association was reacting to comments made by the head of the failed travel group yesterday.
Fankhauser denied being a fat cat in a Mail on Sunday interview.
But TSSA head Manuel Cortes said: “He may claim he’s not a fat cat but that simply does not stand up to scrutiny.
“Unlike employees he walks away having been paid millions of pounds. It’s our members who are paying the price.”
Cortes added: “If he is sincerely sorry for what has happened while he was at the helm then he will have no problem appearing in front of the parliamentary inquiry by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee into Thomas Cook’s demise.”
Fankhauser appeared to blame a group of banks for not supporting a bail-out plan for Thomas Cook in a separate interview with the Sunday Times.
He said if bondholders and a syndicate of 17 banks – including Barclays, Morgan Stanley, DNB, UniCredit, Credit Suisse, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland – had acted faster, then Thomas Cook would still be trading.
“The longer the talks dragged on, the more uncertainty grew, increasing the likelihood of a liquidity squeeze,” Fankhauser told the newspaper.
“Had we been quicker, we might not be in the situation we are now.”
Thomas Cook had secured a £900 million rescue deal led by its largest shareholder, Chinese firm Fosun in August, but a subsequent demand from its banks to raise a further £200 million in contingency funding put the deal in doubt.
Fankhauser accused the banks and bondholders of “trading for every point” during what ultimately proved to be unsuccessful funding talks.
Thomas Cook’s failure will leave taxpayers with a multi-million pound bill for some of the costs of rescuing 150,000 stranded holidaymakers.
Fankhauser said ministers’ refusal to agree a government guarantee for Thomas Cook was the final straw.
“We were so close to a deal,” he said. “We didn’t ask for a bridging loan, just a back-up loan, which would be drawn only in the worst-case scenario.”
He added: “You can reproach a lot. But I pushed everything.
I threw everything of me into it for the last three months. I don’t think we as a company did something wrong.”
Meanwhile, Cortes reacted angrily to a report in The Guardian suggesting business secretary Andrea Leadsom failed to meet Thomas Cook officials prior to the firm’s collapse.
Hesaid: “It’s absolutely scandalous that, seemingly, the Tory government wouldn’t even lift its little finger to try and save jobs and allow over 160,000 of our people to continue enjoying their holidays.
“Boris Johnson said that intervening to save Thomas Cook would create a ‘moral hazard’ and the people of our country will rightly question the morality of his business secretary who didn’t even meet company officials once and simply allowed 9,000 jobs to be lost.”