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Thomas Cook crew in strike vote over 20 minute breaks

Staff writer |
Over 1,000 Thomas Cook airlines cabin crew began voting in a ballot for industrial action in a dispute over health and safety concerns and "dangerous" changes to rest breaks.

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That sees cabin crew allowed just a 20 minute break during an 11 hour 59 minute duty period.

The strike vote involving members of Britain’s largest union Unite follows mounting concerns that cabin crew are being "pushed to the limit" in a bid to maximise profits which is, in turn, putting passenger safety at risk.

Cabin crew, whose primary duty on board an aircraft is passenger safety, have voiced increasing alarm about the impact of fatigue on inflight safety following Thomas Cook’s insistence that they work for up to 12 hours with only a 20 minute break.

Before management’s imposition of the changes, cabin crew were entitled to a 20 minute break every six hours.

A member of cabin crew will typically work 10 to 15 hour shifts and up to 60 hours a week. Shifts include pre-flight preparations, safety and security checks, boarding, inflight service of headsets, drinks, food, duty free sales and other promotions, such as scratch cards.

On short-haul flights this process is repeated for in-bound flights after a turnaround of usually less than one hour which includes restocking and preparing the aircraft while under extreme time pressures.

Thomas Cook has also now introduced an Airshoppen service for passengers. This additional service allows passengers to pre-order duty free online and have it delivered to them in their seats.

It involves cabin crew sorting and bagging orders prior to take off and collecting payment from customers inflight. On flights the service is taking up to two hours to deliver.

The ballot of cabin crew, working on flights to major tourist destinations from 10 airports across the UK, closes on Wednesday May 25 and could lead to industrial action taking place during the forthcoming half term school holidays.

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