Socialist Party
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25 September 2019

Nationalise Thomas Cook to save jobs and protect passengers

Steve Cawley, Cambridgeshire Socialist Party

Thousands of Thomas Cook workers and hundreds of thousands of its customers were devastated by the collapse of the firm on 23 September.

There have been numerous reports of workers, after having been sacked on the spot, making their way to hotels and airports, in their own time and at their own expense, to try to assist their former customers.

Many airports and towns in Britain will be affected by the closure, particularly the Manchester Airport area - 3,000 job losses - and 1,200 office jobs in Peterborough. The numbers of job losses could be 9,000 altogether.

The Tory government evidently have reverted to their normal policy of 'letting private companies go to the wall'. But whereas the boss of Thomas Cook has 'gone to the wall' with an 8 million salary earned (or at least given to him) over the past few years - most front-line staff will be waiting for news of what, if anything at all, is left for them. Yet again, workers are classed as 'unsecured creditors' (end of the queue) in this situation.

Tory Shailesh Vara, the MP whose constituency includes the Thomas Cook HQ site at Lynchwood, Peterborough, expressed concern after the event much as he would for a lightning strike or any other 'act of God'. But of course the firm's collapse was precisely not the act of an angry god but was the result of the capitalist system aided by greed and incompetence by management.

City hedge funds and speculators are also set to make over 200 million out of the company's collapse. Sona Asset Management and XAIA Investment invested in derivatives that pay out when a company defaults.

The labour movement needs its own inquiry calling for the opening of the books to see where the money has gone and taking evidence from former Thomas Cook workers.

The trade unions representing workers have demanded the government step in. Thomas Cook was nationalised in 1948 along with the railways. It should be renationalised under democratic workers' control to save the jobs, along with British Airways and the rest of the transport system.