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Protect Jobs! Protect Terms and Conditions!

8 March 2013

Thomas Cook has proposed a series of draconian measures in a bid to restore the company to profitability. The basic problem with its proposals is that they will have a devastating impact on the very people needed to help turn round the company’s fortunes: its own employees.

Pay Freeze: Last year saw a pay freeze for all staff and major cuts in the Employee Concession Scheme and Long Service Awards. Thomas Cook’s proposal for a further pay freeze in 2013 is simply unacceptable.

Thomas Cook itself admits another year of freezing pay (i.e. cutting living standards) will result in “a decline in morale and potentially higher labour turnover.” Result: further decline in Thomas Cook’s financial performance.

Store Closures & Job Losses: Thomas Cook is wanting to shut down another 195 stores (some of them branded as Thomas Cook, some as Co-op Travel), at a cost of nearly a thousand jobs. In addition, another 1,500 job losses are planned for retail and other parts of the company.

Such a strategy will be a boost for Thomas Cook’s competitors. Redundant staff, with years of experience, will look for jobs elsewhere in the travel trade. A Thomas Cook presence will disappear from town centres across the country.

Companies such as Barrhead Travel, Hayes and Midcounties Co-operative Travel will take on redundant staff and move in on the towns abandoned by Thomas Cook. Result: further decline by Thomas Cook, further growth by its competitors.

Cluster Management: Despite the proven failure of straddle management, Thomas Cook is now wanting to replace store managers by a mixture of ‘cluster managers’ (with responsibility for between two and five stores) and assistant managers. At the same time the number of customer service managers is to be slashed by 25%.

This is a recipe for disaster. Stores will lose the irreplaceable role played by an on-the-spot manager. Cluster managers, with the best will in the world, will be unable to replace them. The remaining CSMs will not be able to fill the gap. Result: A decline in the performance and profitability of stores across the country.

Cuts in Terms and Conditions: Worse redundancy terms are to be introduced for new and existing staff. And staff redeployed in a redundancy situation will have their pay protected for just three months (as opposed to a year at present).

Company sick pay for any employee who hits 100 Bradford Points is to be denied for the first three days of absence. TOIL is to be taken instead of payments for overtime. Return-to-work bonuses following maternity and adoption leave are to be scrapped.

According to Thomas Cook, such proposals “will be disappointing for some employees.” In fact, their impact will be felt as a major blow throughout the workforce – especially given that there is no point in cutting redundancy pay unless another swathe of redundancies is only a matter of time. Result: another twist to the spiral of decline in staff morale and staff turnover

Increased Workloads:
Scrapping managers’ posts, CSM posts, and the posts of all store-based staff not engaged in customer-facing activities will increase the workload of the remaining staff in stores. The ‘restructuring’ of head office retail support structures, sales centres, and corporate and group will have the same result in other parts of the business.

Result: Higher levels of absence, less job satisfaction, poorer individual and collective performance, and an increased risk to the future of Thomas Cook – the very opposite of what the planned re-organisation is meant to achieve.

TSSA Response:

The TSSA will be writing to the other unions recognised by Thomas Cook (UnIte and USDAW) and to Thomas Cook itself to propose that Thomas Cook engage in joint meetings with all the unions (instead of meeting with the unions separately).

We will also be demanding that proposed changes to terms and conditions of employment be negotiated with the three unions, not through the Voice Forum.

We will keep members informed of negotiations with Thomas Cook and seek feedback from them at every opportunity about how we should be campaigning.

(Guidance on drawing up counter-proposals to store closures can be found here. This will be updated shortly.)

In meetings with Thomas Cook we will refuse to sign up to any proposal which results in worse terms and conditions for our members.

Our members have already made more than their fair share of sacrifices – especially given that the problems faced by Thomas Cook have not been caused by its employees but by the disastrous ‘strategy’ pursued by Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

Please encourage your colleagues who are not already TSSA members to join on- line:

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