Unite union is calling for a fresh inquiry into the government’s handling of the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The call comes after a study showed only a fifth of the travel giant’s former 9,000 employees had found work since its failure on September 23.

The union said many former workers who had found new employment were earning less or on contracts which were not family friendly.

Unite wants the transport select committee to hold an inquiry into how the Department for Transport handled the collapse, claiming thousands of jobs could have been saved if the airline division if the government stepped in.

Diana Holland, Unite’s assistant general secretary, was quoted in The Guardian saying workers had been failed by the previous Conservative government.

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“A profitable airline was allowed to collapse into liquidation and then the workers who have paid taxes all their working lives have had to deal with the complex procedures to get what they are owed, and have even been blocked from claiming the benefits they are entitled to,” she said.

“It is vital there is a full investigation into the Department for Transport’s role in the company’s collapse.”

A government spokesman said: “An analysis of Thomas Cook’s financial position, coupled with the government’s belief it should not prop up private airlines or tour operators, resulted in a carefully considered decision being taken to not intervene in the company.

“We know that losing a job is a distressing time for people and we were ready on day one to help those affected. Our dedicated staff have helped thousands, including fast-tracking applications so people are supported to find new work or training as soon as possible.”

Days before Christmas the Department for Work and Pensions apologised after dozens of ex-Thomas Cook workers said they were struggling to claim state benefits.

Many reportedly have received nothing since the collapse of the company in September and have been poorly advised by job centres.

The situation stems from confusion over whether they are entitled to job seeker’s allowance or universal credit as the Thomas Cook administration process remains ongoing.

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