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THE government should intervene to save tour company Thomas Cook from collapse, a travel union leader has said, arguing that to do so would cost less than the repatriation of 150,000 British holidaymakers.
Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) general secretary Manuel Cortes made the call yesterday after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab pledged: “We have got all the contingency planning to make sure no-one will be stranded.
“I don't want to give all the details of it because it depends on the nature of how people are out there, whether they have got a package holiday or whether they just paid for the flights and sorted out something separately.
“But I can reassure people that in the worst-case scenario, the contingency planning is there to avoid people being stranded.”
However, Mr Cortes, whose union has members at Thomas Cook, called on Mr Raab to say how large the contingency fund, dubbed Operation Matterhorn, would be.
His plea came as the company’s shareholders held a crunch meeting in London where they hoped to secure £200 million to avoid the business going into administration.
Mr Cortes said: “We hope a deal can still be done, but Dominic Raab and other ministers must come clean and tells us exactly how much the government is willing to spend bringing 150,000 British holidaymakers home.
“There no escaping the fact that doing so will cost more than the £200 million needed by Thomas Cook to survive.
“Factor in the potential loss of 9,000 jobs, plus benefit payments and loss in tax and national insurance revenue, and it makes no sense whatsoever for the government not to step in and rescue Thomas Cook.
He added: “This calls for strategic thinking. Thomas Cook was run very successfully in public ownership between 1948 and 1972.
“The government now taking a stake, or completely taking [the firm] over, must not be ruled out as this will be an investment.
“Saving Thomas Cook would cost a very small fraction of the billions used to shore up banks during the financial crisis.”
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