The town has been hit by a major jobs blow after a travel agent giant announced it is to axe its call centre.
Around 100 Thomas Cook staff in Accrington have been told they’re at risk of losing their jobs as part of swingeing job cuts across the country.
Staff based at the Globe Centre’s cruise operations call centre have learned they are in a 90-day consultation period over their jobs before the call centre closes.
Thomas Cook said its lease on the call centre was due to expire but they were hopeful some workers would keep their jobs and work from home or be relocated.
The company has announced it is axing 2,500 jobs and shutting 195 high street travel agencies nationwide.
Sharon Ainsworth, of shop workers union USDAW, said the size of the cuts had come out of the blue.
She added: “We were well aware of the challenges that Thomas Cook have been facing in turning their UK?business around, but the scale and severity of these redundancies will come as a real shock to our members.”
And council leader Miles Parkinson urged Thomas Cook to open talks with BT about the possibility of staff who lose their jobs finding work at its new One Connect call centre due to open in the Globe Centre.
He said: “Of course it’s very disappointing - especially for the individuals involved and their families.
“In these times there isn’t an availability of well paid jobs like these in east Lancashire.
“Thomas Cook’s cruise operations are very profitable so it’s a shame they will now be based elsewhere.”
He added: “I think there is some hope for those people because BT are creating more jobs than are at risk with Thomas Cook.
“I’ve been in contact with the county council about it to ask them to get BT talking with Thomas Cook about their staff.”
The company has 1,069 stores across the UK and 15,500 employees, making it the country’s largest high street travel retailer.
Bosses said they need to reduce operational costs and react to the changing needs of customers.
The consultation involves merging the cruise operation arm of the company with the main organisation and the company said it was keen to avoid duplicating administrative roles meaning some job losses were likely.
Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook UK & Ireland’s CEO, said it was essential to operate with the right number of people as the company moves to meet the future needs of its customers.
He added: “It is never easy to make decisions that impact directly on our people, but we also owe it to our customers to shape the business effectively and ensure that, when they book their holiday with us, our administrative costs are as low as possible.
“We are in consultation with our unions and employee representative bodies to minimise the impact of these changes and I am speaking personally to all employees to provide information and support.”
He added: “These proposals will mean a stronger Thomas Cook that continues to be a major employer in the UK dedicated to providing excellent holiday experiences to our 23 million customers.”