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Strangers donate to help Thomas Cook cabin crew left without jobs

·Finance and policy reporter
People gather outside the headquarters of tour operator Thomas Cook, in Peterborough, England, which has ceased trading with immediate effect after failing in a final bid to secure a rescue package from creditors Monday Sept. 23, 2019. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. The British government said the return of the 178-year-old firm's 150,000 British customers now in vacation spots across the globe would be the largest repatriation in its peacetime history. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)
People gather outside Thomas Cook headquarters in Peterborough, England. The company's collapse has left nearly 21,000 people jobless worldwide. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA via AP

The public have donated thousands of pounds in just a few hours to support Thomas Cook staff left without jobs by the travel firm’s collapse.

An estimated 21,000 staff woke to find the travel operator and airline (TCG.L) had gone into compulsory liquidation overnight.

A team of cabin crew staff from rival airline launched a crowdfunding page to help workers who not only face unemployment, but could also be left several weeks out of pocket in unpaid wages.

Union reps at other major airlines from the British Airline Steward and Stewardesses’ Association and the Mixed Fleet Union, both part of Unite, launched a Gofundme page on Monday.

READ MORE: Crying staff seen leaving Thomas Cook HQ with boxes of belongings

The fundraising page reads: “Holidaymakers will be repatriated but thousands of Thomas Cook cabin crew will NOT be paid on pay day.

“Imagine the impact on your life if you didn’t get paid next week. Many of them are our friends and family or ex-colleagues. At a time such as this, we believe there is nothing more important than demonstrating the solidarity of our members with those of our friends at our sister branch Thomas Cook Unite.”

The 178-year-old firm employed a reported 21,000 staff worldwide.

One donor, Gordon Kerrigan, wrote on the page: “It’s devastating to hear how this can happen and can’t imagine how the employees must be feeling. We hope this can ease their pain a little knowing there’s people out there thinking of them.”

Alison Healy wrote: “I wouldn’t want to be in that position and want to help my fellow cabin crew who have just overnight lost their jobs.”

Devastated staff could be seen near Thomas Cook’s head office with their heads down after the news broke on Monday morning.

Several workers were in tears as they left the iconic British holiday company’s HQ in Peterborough, some carrying boxes of their belongings.

Several Thomas Cook staff also shared their sadness at the news on social media, with one saying they were “absolutely devastated” to be heading to a Jobcentre after more than two decades at the company.

The UK government has launched plans using other airlines’ jets to repatriate an estimated 150,000 British residents who are among those stranded overseas.

Officials announced the biggest repatriation effort in British peacetime history, after Thomas Cook buckled under the weight of intense competition, huge debts and a failure to secure a bailout deal in recent months.

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