A group of dinner ladies who lost hundreds of pounds in the Farepak collapse have challenged the wife of the company chairman to remember the families who face misery and debt this Christmas.
Eight school meals staff from Taylor High School in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, had been paying into the Christmas savings company since January. They lost between £400 and £800 each.
They wrote to the wife of Sir Clive Thompson – chair of Farepak’s parent company – to ask that when she opens the fancy gifts from her husband, she should stop and ask herself, “By the sweat of whose brow was this gift paid for?”
Margaret Hendry, who lost £670 to Farepak, is one of the women who wrote the letter. She told Socialist Worker, “We found out about the company going bust the same week that we finished our payments.
“When we were finding out that all the money we had been putting aside had just disappeared, where was Sir Clive Thompson? On holiday. And who paid for that holiday? People like us.
“He should not be allowed to get away with this. He has basically robbed the poorest people in the country.
“We have also written to the queen to say Clive Thompson should have his knighthood taken off him.
“We are always told that we should save and not get into debt. Now people who thought that their Christmas was secure are being forced to get into more debt and are putting their long term finances at risk.
“How are people supposed to explain to their children why there’s no money for Christmas?”
Paula Higgins was the Farepak agent in the school kitchen, responsible for collecting the money from her workmates each week.
She has three children and does two jobs to try to make ends meet. As well as the eight people at work, nine members of her family, including both of her parents, lost hundreds of pounds.
She has already run up £1,000 on a credit card debt to pay for Christmas and faces a new year struggling with debt.
A charity was set up to raise money for Farepak victims but it was announced last week that it would only pay 15p per pound lost.
Kim Jeffrey who lost £500 savings told Socialist Worker that she feels that they have been forgotten. She said, “What about all the money that the celebrities waste – just look at Tom Cruise’s wedding – these people could have given something.”
“It is a scandal that Sir Clive Thompson can still swan around with our money. How can he get away with it? If we didn’t pay our council tax, we couldn’t just say, sorry, the money’s gone.
“We would have the sherriff at the door. But he can just go and spend our money on something else. He’ll be swanning around with champagne this Christmas. – champagne bought at our expense.”