UK: Thomas Cook has new office language policy.

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Sep 29 14:31:00 UTC 2007

[image: BBC NEWS]
Travel firm's new language policy
*A travel firm which was at the centre of a row over staff speaking Welsh
has produced a new office language policy. *

There had been protests after workers at Thomas Cook in Bangor, Gwynedd,
were told to speak only English in work-related conversations. Thomas Cook
has now said that "whenever appropriate" it will let staff "use and develop
their language abilities". The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) welcomed
the policy and said it should be taken as a model for others. Thomas Cook
joined the Commission for Racial Equality and the Welsh Language Board in
announcing the new programme.

In June the Welsh Language Society mounted protests outside Thomas Cook
offices in Bangor, Cardiff and Carmarthen after the company said business
discussions should be in English.

   *Their approach should be taken up as a model of how the Welsh language
skills of their staff can be valued *
Aled Rowlands, Commission for Racial Equality

About 80 protesters gathered at Bangor. A number of the protesters were
wearing signs around their necks with the letters WN, meaning Welsh Not - a
punishment introduced in 19th Century schools to stop children speaking
Welsh.  The company said at the time that it wanted to ensure clear
communication at all times and believed English should be used, as it is the
common language in the UK. Now, after discussions with the CRE and language
board, Thomas Cook has developed "a wide-ranging policy" on the use of Welsh
in the workplace.

"As an employer, whenever appropriate, we will endeavour to enable our staff
to use and develop their language abilities," said a Thomas Cook

*Strength of feeling *

The company said it would promote the use of Welsh as well as English among
staff in Wales "in a manner that does not interfere with the good working of
the business and which recognises that individual members of staff have a
right to use the language of their choice in the workplace where this is
reasonable, proportionate and practicable". CRE commissioner for Wales Aled
Edwards said: "Thomas Cook has taken to heart the strength of feeling in
Wales about the language - and the business benefits that comes from valuing
the skills of their staff," he said. "Their approach should be taken up as a
model of how the Welsh language skills of their staff can be valued and used
- and the skills of other language speakers."

Meri Huws, chair of the Welsh Language Board, welcomed the "constructive
way" Thomas Cook had responded. Ms Huws said they looked forward to working
with the company to implement their new language policy effectively "so that
they can make the most of the skills their staff possess".

 Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/28 16:06:03 GMT


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