WATCH: Rachel Reeves slams 'deluded' Thomas Cook bosses as they refuse to hand back bonuses

Posted On: 
15th October 2019

Labour MP Rachel Reeves has slammed "deluded" Thomas Cook bosses after they refused to consider paying back their bonuses.

Rachel Reeves said the firm's former chairman was "deluded"
Credit: 
UK Parliament

MPs rounded on the former management of the stricken travel group as they called for them to show "humility" over the firm's collapse.

Over 9,000 jobs were lost last month after the firm entered administration, while 150,000 UK holidaymakers were left stranded abroad.

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Speaking during a session of the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, former chief executive Peter Fankhauser defended a £500,000 bonus payment he received last year, saying while he was "deeply sorry" the firm had failed, he had worked "tirelessly" to save it.

Committee chair Rachel Reeves said the apology "rang hollow" as she urged him to repay the bonus in order to compensate taxpayers for the cost of the massive repatriation of Brits left stuck abroad.

But Mr Fankhauser, who claimed a large-debt pile and slow bookings resulting from last year's summer heatwave were partly behind the firm's collapse, said the failure was "not one-sided".

"I fully understand the sentiment in the public and I understand the sentiment of some of our colleagues," he told MPs.

"However, what I can say to that is that I worked tirelessly for the success of the company and I am deeply sorry that I was not able to secure the deal.

"But it was not one-sided that I failed. There was multiple parties who had to contribute to the deal which finally then did not succeed."

Meanwhile, former Thomas Cook chairman Frank Meysman, said the company was attempting to restructure before its collapse and that it has served "20 million happy customers".

But the comments provoked fury from Ms Reeves, who branded the former group chairman "deluded".

 

"You are here today because 9,000 people have lost their jobs. 150,000 people were on holidays and had to be brough home at a cost to the taxpayer," she said.

"So, with all respect Mr Meysman, you can point to as many successes as you like, but you have broughr down a 178 year business with huge repurcussions for customers, staff and taxpayers. 

"So you can point to the success and I'll point to the failures and they hugely outweigh the successes you've spoken about."

She added: "At the beginning, Mr Meysman, you and your colleagues offered some apologies, but I think you are deluded about the business that you ran.

"It has gone under because of the deicisons made collectively by your management team. So when you point to the success, maybe you might want to have a little more humility."

Meanwhile, Frank Field, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, called for the bonuses to be paid back to "bolster the retirement" of former staff.

“Thomas Cook workers now face a long wait to find out exactly how much they’ve lost from their life savings, and while their former bosses might argue that this isn’t another BHS, Carillion or British Steel, they will have a hard time justifying the millions they pocketed, one eye on the door, while the company collapsed around them," he said.

“If they’ve had a chance to check how their own pensions are affected, perhaps the high-paid executives responsible would like to bolster the retirement of some of the workers they left behind, and give some of it back?”