North East community reacts to Hays Travel job cuts as shadow minister urges Government to 'protect people’s livelihoods'
A shadow minister has called on the Government to provide businesses with more targeted support as Sunderland-based Hays Travel announced the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Owners John and Irene Hays made the announcement on Monday, August 3 - saying they were ‘devastated’ at facing the loss of up to 878 members of staff as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The travel giant, which has its headquarters in Sunderland’s Keel Square, took on more than 500 Thomas Cook stores last year after the firm collapsed, saving thousands of jobs.
But a change in travel restrictions for Spain and to the Government’s furlough scheme left Hays ‘with no choice’ but to look at the possibility of cutting jobs – after having ‘no significant redundancies’ in its 40-year history.
And shadow business minister Lucy Powell echoed the couple’s upset, branding the changes to furlough support, which came into action this month, as ‘illogical’.
Firms had to begin paying employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions for the hours an employee is on furlough as of Saturday, August 1.
The Government will still continue to pay 80% of an employee’s wages up to a cap of £2,500. This will change to 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 in September.
The Labour MP said: “The Government’s illogical decision to withdraw furlough support from businesses across the board, regardless of sector or circumstance, is putting so many jobs at risk.
“With forecasts of a 10% unemployment rate and regular mass redundancies, it is clear the Government must urgently target support where it is needed and protect people’s livelihoods.”
Some readers praised the couple for their work in trying to retain staff, while others branded 2020 a heartbreaking time for the travel industry.
This is what you had to say on our Facebook pages:
Lee Diston: “Sadly it was only a matter of time. After all they did trying to help people back into employment. Hopefully things will pick back up in the future.”
Louise Redman: “I feel the pain of this couple, they’ve tried their very best.”
Vivienne Hinds: “Bet they are devastated.”
Tracy Derby: “It must be heartbreaking for these two who have done so much for staff of the travel industry.”
Lisa Kings: “They absolutely tried to do their best out of a bad situation. Worked for Hays Travel as my first ever job and John was a lovely boss. Very sad.”
Denise Mustard: “Feel so sorry for you both this is a bad time for all business.”
Lilian Popov: “They don’t deserve this being done to them. Just like other firms trying hard to keep people in a job.”
Jackie Mountain: “It is a shame that in trying to rescue jobs this Covid has led to these problems.”
Leanne Kelly: “I really hope they can move past this.”
Tracy Dixon: “So sad for the travel industry.”
Jim Gillespie: “The travel & leisure industry are going to be devastated this month as Government Furlough scheme rules change, leaving employers to make some very tough decisions.”