Socialist Worker

Farepak bosses won’t be suffering this Christmas

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2027

Sir Clive Thompson and his wife left their Kent mansion this week and jetted off to a sunshine holiday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Thompson is chairman of European Home Retail, the parent company of Farepak.

This is the firm which has left tens of thousands of low paid people facing a desperate Christmas after its collapse took away the money they had worked desperately hard to put aside.

Some 150,000 Farepak customers lost about £45 million according to official figures.

But some estimates say 300,000 customers may have lost out on savings of more than £100 million.

As chief executive of Rentokil Initial, Thompson was dubbed “the meanest boss in Britain” in 1998 after it emerged 10,000 staff would need pay rises to reach the minimum wage - while his own pay topped £1 million.

He also met criticism as president of the CBI employers’ body when he compared unions to the pests his company chased.

Margaret Summers is one of those who has been robbed by Farepak’s failure. She and 65 colleagues from Hamilton hearing aid factory Oticon have lost £38,000.

She said, “Thompson’s assets should be used to help those who have been left penniless this Christmas. His knighthood is a good start. His home should be sold from under him.”

The Unison union has called on Farepak’s bankers to reimburse every family hit by the firm’s collapse.

General secretary Dave Prentis said, “Many of our members face a bleak Christmas through the despicable behaviour of the companies and the banks involved.” He said bankers HBOS had a “moral obligation to reach into their very deep pockets”.

Farepak is a symbol of how much the law protects the rich. After nine years of a Labour government people have their lives wrecked and the bosses responsible can’t be touched.

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