Former Thomas Cook staff demanded financial support from the government – on what should have been their pay day.
Dozens of those who lost their jobs when the world’s oldest travel operator collapsed last week protested outside the Conservative Party Conference.
Some wearing cabin crew uniforms, they urged ministers to “pay us now” after they did not receive their wages.
About 9,000 staff in the UK were left jobless when the business failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.
Protesters held placards with the slogan “Bankers bailed out, Thomas Cook kicked out” as they gathered outside the Manchester Convention Centre.
Si Smith, 30, from Manchester, who lost his cabin crew job, said it was “disgusting” the way the staff had been treated.
“We are all here, we expected to get paid today and it just didn’t happen,” he said.
Married couple Colin and Louise Griffiths, 47 and 37, from Stoke-on-Trent, were both cabin crew managers.
Mr Griffiths said they wanted “answers” from the government about why “they let a profit-making airline go the way it did”.
“It’s been devastating. We have got four-year-old twins, all our eggs are in one basket.
“We should have been paid today. All of our bills, mortgage is coming out tomorrow. We have found it very stressful,” he said.
Mrs Griffiths said: “I just feel really numb, upset. I haven’t really been functioning much this week. I’ve just been trying to focus all my energy on my children, making sure they’re not affected too much by this.”
Cabin crew manager Stephen Kearney, 57, originally from Liverpool, said the government “refused to help us in any way”, unlike the German government which he said helped airline Condor to stay afloat.
“We are just in a grieving process at the moment, trying to figure out where we go from here, what we do,” he added.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham led calls outside the Tory conference venue for the government to give former staff their unpaid wages and redundancy packages.
He said: “Thousands of people in Greater Manchester woke up last week to the news that they didn’t have a job, and today they were expecting a pay cheque and of course it has not arrived.”
Last week Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended the decision not to bail out the firm.
“I fear it would have kept them afloat for a very short period of time and then we would have been back in the position of needing to repatriate people in any case,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has said she will write to the Insolvency Service urging it to “fast-track” its investigation into the circumstances that caused the company to go into liquidation.