Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has spoken up in parliament on behalf of ‘devastated’ staff and customers of Thomas Cook following the collapse of the airline.
The SNP MP said he had been contacted by a number of Thomas Cook employees this week after the shutters came down on local branches in Clydebank and Alexandria.
Challenging the UK Transport Secretary in the House of Commons, Martin sought assurances on behalf of local workers who had lost their jobs – seeking guarantees on their pensions and rights to social security payments.
Responding on behalf of the UK government, Secretary of State Grant Shapps failed to give firm assurances over pension rights, but did suggest that anyone applying for Universal Credit could ask for advance payments if they’re in financial difficulty.
Speaking afterwards, local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said that staff and customers of Thomas Cook had been treated shamefully and let down by the UK government’s failure to step in.
Any staff in Scotland worried about redundancy and seeking support are encouraged to contact their local Citizens Advice or the Scottish Government’s PACE helpline on 0800 917 8000.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“Since the collapse of Thomas Cook I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents affected from across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale. Many of them have been loyal and hardworking employees of Thomas Cook for years, and now they’re unsure of where to turn.
“This has been a devastating blow for all the Thomas Cook staff and their families – including those based at West Dunbartonshire’s two branches. It’s vital that they have all the support they need, and I have been working closely with local CAB offices and other advice agencies to provide help during this difficult period.
“Everyone involved with Thomas Cook have been treated shamefully and the British government has a lot to answer for. Had parliament not been shut down unlawfully by the Tories, then perhaps more could have been done to save thousands of job losses and avoid heartbreak for hundreds of holidaymakers.
“Having lost their jobs and been let down by the UK government, many will now be forced to wait up to six weeks for their first social security payment due to the DWP’s much maligned Universal Credit system.
“When I questioned the Secretary of State on this their answers were far from convincing. This is a worrying time for Thomas Cook employees and their families and they deserve so much better.”
Thomas Cook employees seeking advice on redundancy can contact the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) helpline on 0800 917 8000 or go online to www.redundancyscotland.co.uk.