The Spanish tour operator Wamos has taken over 62 of the 91 travel agencies that formerly belonged to Thomas Cook Belgium. The shops are due to re-open tomorrow (21 October). They will continue to use the Neckermann brand name, the Neckermann logo and the name Neckermann will also be used for the company’s Belgian website. Initially the travel agencies will only sell holidays from other tour operators such as Corendon, Pegase, Club Med and MisterFly.
Reaching an agreement on the employment terms and conditions of the 200 employees that will keep their jobs was one of the final hurdles to overcome become before the travel agency stores reopen.
Speaking on Saturday evening the Commercial Director of Wamos Belgium Frédéric Van Waeijenberge, told journalists that the employment conditions will be broadly speaking the same as those that were applied under Thomas Cook Retail Belgium. Katrien Degryse of the socialist white collar union BBTK said that those that have kept their jobs will also be paid the same and retain the advantages linked to length of service that they had when they were employed by Thomas Cook. Employees’ hospitalisation insurance and the conditions under which they can take a career break will remain the same. However, the value of the luncheon vouchers given to staff will be cut and a collective bonus system will replace the departmental bonus system that was in force under Thomas Cook.
A number of technical hurdles, such as the roll out of a new IT system, still need to be overcome before the 62 travel agencies can reopen. It is also not 100% certain that all the 200 former Thomas Cook employees will accept the new pay and conditions package. Furthermore, some have already found new jobs. Nevertheless, Mr Van Waeijenberge is optimistic that Monday’s grand reopening will go ahead.