Wales: Thomas Cook Bad Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Jul 8 15:45:52 UTC 2007

-- July 07

Thomas Cook Bad Language Policy

Thomas Cook Welsh Language Ban - Comments from Eleanor Burnham AM

Eleanor Burnham, Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Welsh
Language and Assembly Member for North Wales, has today given her
reaction to the news that travel agent Thomas Cook has banned the
work-related use of Welsh among staff in its Bangor branch. The travel
agent has instructed members of staff at the Bangor branch to hold all
work-related conversations in English, a policy applying to all
non-English languages.

Ms Burnham said: "It is utterly disgraceful that a company be allowed
to dictate to its staff which language they use whilst working,
particularly in such a strong Welsh-speaking area as Gwynedd.
"Examples like this make it clear why we need to enshrine the rights
of Welsh speakers in law, and give official status to Welsh as a
language of Wales equal to English. "Welsh and English should stand
side by side in law and those who wish to use either language in
official situations or in the workplace should be allowed to do so.

"Thomas Cook's actions undermine the bilingual status of our society.
In a region with a substantial number of Welsh speakers, why shouldn't
staff be allowed to use either Welsh or English with each other and
with customers? It should be a matter of choice, and a new Welsh
Language measure would protect this right to choose which language
people use on a day to day basis.  "We will soon know if the firm's
actions are actually in breach of the Race Relations Act and I would
hope that Thomas Cook will now reconsider their language policy. Using
Welsh or English within Wales is a choice, not a rule and this
incident flies in the face of our diverse, modern Welsh society. Other
businesses and companies should now consider very carefully how they
facilitate bilingual workplaces in Wales."!CF07D26B99114A7E!476.entry
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