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TSSA Urges Help Over Hays Travel Jobs & Travel Trade Future 

25 March 2020

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has restated his call for the government to hold talks with the union over the plight of workers at Hays Travel, which has announced hundreds of staff are being placed on zero hours contracts amid the Coronavirus crisis.  

Last week Cortes wrote to the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, urging he intervene. Since then the union has heard nothing. 

Commenting today Cortes said: “The government has so far failed to discuss intervening to save nearly a thousand jobs. That is simply unacceptable.  

“It’s imperative discussions between us and the Department for Business take place as soon as possible. The livelihoods of thousands of travel trade workers depend on Ministers stepping in as we have seen elsewhere as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.” 

In his original letter Cortes urged the government to ‘learn from its lessons with Thomas Cook and intervene to save Hays Travel’, raising wider concerns about the future of the high street travel shops. 

Hays employs 4,000 staff of whom 2,000 are former employees of Thomas Cook.

 

Text of the Letter to Alok Sharma – Business Secretary  

Alok Sharma, MP 

House of Commons 

London, SW1A 0AA 

23rd March 2020 

Dear Mr Sharma, 

I write to you today to urge immediate action to save our high street travel shops. 

The Coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event, posing an existential threat to jobs and industry. Without urgent action from your department there is a real risk that travel shops on the high street will be a thing of the past. 

Just three days ago Hays announced that they were putting 880 workers – 20% of their workforce - onto zero hours contracts and cutting the hours of many more staff. Just four weeks ago Hays was a company on upward trajectory yet now the business is losing revenue by the hour. Without effective government intervention we will see more announcements like this one. 

The last twelve months have seen the collapse of both Flybe and Thomas Cook due to lack of government action. Thomas Cook’s demise alone cost the taxpayer well over £156 million in repatriation and redundancy costs. Unpaid wages, Employment Tribunal claims and unemployment benefits for workers still without jobs is costing the country millions more. 

The true cost of Flybe’s demise is still unknown but cannot be underestimated. 

On top of these is the social cost to the country of losing well-loved brands from the high street. When the coronavirus threat diminishes, and shoppers return to the high street we must ensure that there is in fact a high street to return to. 

It is vital to learn the lessons from Thomas Cook and Flybe and intervene now, to save the jobs of all the travel shop employees and the character and charm of our high streets. 

Yours sincerely 

Manuel Cortes General Secretary  

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