UNION officials have gone head-to-head with travel giant Thomas Cook after being locked out of crisis talks.
Staff at the Globe complex call centre in Accrington have been left in limbo after learning that 260 jobs will be axed.
Preliminary talks have been held with staff, and workers have been told they will be kept informed on a regular basis.
But as a 90-day consultation period began, employees were stunned to learn that they cannot be represented by union officials because they are not retail staff.
Kevin Lucas, from the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), plans to help save as many jobs as possible through relocation and redeployment, and vowed to fight bosses at the travel company.
But he said: "At the moment we are unable to represent the staff. Thomas Cook does not believe it has to consult with us for this group of workers. We disagree and we are challenging its decision.
"We have written to the company in very strong terms outlining what we believe our legal rights to be. Should the company continue to not allow us to represent our members we will be seeking other avenues. We won’t rule out legal action."
Meanwhile, employees have spoken out about their turmoil.
One member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Everyone is shell-shocked. It’s very uncertain for everyone. It’s affecting us all in the same way.
"We don’t know whether to look for another job but if we do we won’t get redundancy money.
"We’ve been told that this will save Thomas Cook £2M, which is great for the company but not for the families affected."
Staff have been told that they can transfer to Bradford or Peterborough, which some are considering, and that they will be expected to work their notice if they wish to qualify for redundancy pay.
Another staff member said: "Everyone is down about it. Most people are looking for other jobs already. We had a question- and-answer session last week but they didn’t have any answers to the questions we were asking."