Thomas Cook cabin crew vote for strike ballot

Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew have voted for industrial action in a consultative ballot over the loss of almost 500 jobs.

The ballot followed what cabin crew union Unite described as a breakdown in talks over redundancy terms. However, Thomas Cook said it remained committed to consultation with the union.

Unite has 1,150 of Thomas Cook’s 1,800 cabin crew as members. The union's reps at Thomas Cook will meet in Manchester on Wednesday to decide whether to go for a full strike ballot. 

The union’s regional officer Mick Whitley said: “The overwhelming vote shows our members’ anger and should be a wake-up call for the management to return to the negotiating table.”

He warned: “Unite is not going to speculate about Christmas flights. The ball is in management’s court – they need to come up with a realistic offer for those facing redundancy. They are a profitable firm.”

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: "We're committed to continuing meaningful consultation with our people, their representatives and Unite as we look for opportunities to reduce the potential number of job losses."

A total of 475 Unite members voted for industrial action, with 53 against. Unite negotiators had asked the company to offer a “realistic” voluntary severance package, but said management refused to enhance the current redundancy pay of two weeks per year. 

The union has requested a minimum of three weeks per year plus a lump sum of £5,000. It said the average cabin crew pay is £15,000 a year.

In a statement, Thomas Cook said: "Thomas Cook Airlines entered into a 90-day consultation with employees in September following its proposal to reduce its airline fleet from 41 to 35 aircraft. These proposals include the appropriate reduction in the number of roles required to operate six aircraft."

Unite said cabin crew and pilots at Thomas Cook Belgium have pledged not to operate flights for Thomas Cook UK in the event of industrial action.

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