Maria Vindevoghel on Thomas Cook bankruptcy: “Jobs must be protected”
Now that Thomas Cook Belgium has also been declared financially incapacitated, Maria Vindevoghel, member of parliament for PTB-PVDA, warns against the possibility of a snowball effect in the sector. For the former Sabena trade unionist, dismissals must be avoided at all costs. “Shareholders and employers have benefited for years from profits and bonuses. Workers, on the other hand, are left in the most complete uncertainty today.”
22,000 jobs are threatened around the world, and 600,000 tourists are left out in the cold. The bankruptcy of the British group Thomas Cook caused many victims. “I feel a particular solidarity with the 600 Belgian workers who are currently living in uncertainty”, reacts PTB-PVDA MP Maria Vindevoghel, once an airport cleaning worker herself. “The uncertainty of losing your job is something extremely heavy to bear.”
Maria Vindevoghel also warns against the possibility of a snowball effect in the airport sector. “Brussels Airlines provides most of Thomas Cook Belgium's flights. These are now cancelled. The threat of dismissals also hangs over baggage handlers. I hear that workers throughout the sector are extremely concerned.”
Maria Vindevoghel will ask Wouter Beke, Minister of Employment, Economy and Consumers, about the measures that will be taken. She believes that preserving jobs and avoiding redundancies should be the priority. “We're tired of workers always having to pay the bill. Today, workers and travellers are victims of the downward spiral that is underway in the airline industry. It was this price dumping that led Thomas Cook to its downfall. For years, workers have been forced to undergo restructuring and recovery plans. At the same time, I read in the press that Thomas Cook's bosses have pocketed more than 22 million euros in bonuses over the past five years, without any shame. It is disgusting then to hear that salaries can no longer be paid and that bills are piling up”, says Maria Vindevoghel, who suggests that management should refund these bonuses.
“In this case, capitalism shows its most cynical face”, she adds. “The big winners of this story are the hedge funds that have speculated on Thomas Cook's bankruptcy. They throw themselves at the company like vultures and earn more than 227 million euros in a single day. Explain this to the thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs, or to the stranded travellers who see their well-deserved holidays go up in smoke.”
Maria Vindevoghel also affirms that the travellers concerned must be guaranteed that they can finish their holidays without having to pay the costs themselves. “Both workers and travellers are the victims in this story”, she concludes.