The Co-operative Group has refused to give staff in the travel division an enhanced redundancy package being offered to employees in other parts of the business, despite appeals from unions and staff.
As part of a management integration programme the group is providing staff made redundant from the financial services and retail divisions with a topped-up package of statutory redundancy multiplied by three, with an extra eight weeks.
However, despite protests from the unions, the group has said it would be “inappropriate” to extend the offer to travel staff, who will transfer employment to Thomas Cook under the terms of the joint venture. The merger was officially completed on Tuesday.
The Co-op has yet to reveal how many travel staff will lose their jobs, but some said the decision showed the company was “washing its hands” of travel.
One employee said: “From a company that boasts about its ethical and moral values and how it treats its staff, it is going in the face of that to discriminate against the travel staff. It is washing its hands of travel in a joint venture that will save millions.”
Trade unions the National Association of Co-operative Officials (Naco) and Usdaw, fought the decision at a meeting with Co-operative Group chief executive Peter Marks on September 29. Marks is also a non-executive director of the travel joint venture.
Neil Buist, general secretary of Naco, said: “While we have made every effort to secure enhanced redundancy terms for those affected by the joint venture, unfortunately the group chief executive has confirmed the enhanced terms will not be extended.”
A spokesman for the Co-operative Group said: “The group chief executive has listened to the submissions but has determined that it would not be appropriate in the case of employees joining the new joint venture to introduce a discretionary ‘top-up’ to our present terms.”
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