Matalan Pay Up But Is It Enough?
The Trust Fund was set up over six months ago by the International Labour Organisation to fund compensation payments to the dependents of the 1,338 workers killed and 2,000 workers injured in the Rana Plaza disaster. While many fast fashion companies have contributed to the fund Matalan was the only large British retailer refusing to contribute.
Bowing to pressure last week Matalan agreed to pay up, however, this marked victory for the victims of such a horrific disaster has been met with condemnation from campaigners when Matalan, which makes a profit of over £100 million a year, revealed it had paid no more than £60,000 to the Fund, just 2% of the £3million demanded by campaigners, and representing a payment of just £50 to each killed worker.
Until last week Matalan was the target of a major consumer campaign driven by 38 degrees members that saw the company receive over 1,000 social media messages per hour and which forced them to temporarily suspend their customer helpline. Despite sustained calls for to pay up, including a direct request from the UK government the company held off for months.
Susannah Compton of 38 degrees says, “38 Degrees members came together in their tens of thousands last week to get Matalan to take responsibility – in 216 stores, at their HQ, on Twitter and Facebook and via their customer service line. Matalan responded by contributing a paltry £60,000 to the Fund – way short of the £3 million required for the Fund to start making payments to all the survivors and victims’ families. Matalan customers have been left wondering why Matalan still refuses to do the right thing for workers who died and were seriously injured by the Rana Plaza collapse.”
“Matalan has made nothing more than a token contribution to the Fund, in order to deflect what is clearly a widespread concern amongst its consumers, while at the same time trying hide the fact that their payment was derisory. However, the public uproar last week made clear that the UK public remains deeply concerned about Rana Plaza and that the victims and the survivors’ families receive the fair compensation they deserve”, says Sam Maher of Labour Behind the Label.
Labour Behind the Label joined forces with online campaigners 38 degrees to launch last week’s consumer campaign in an effort to ensure that the first round payments for the claims processed since April can be fulfilled. The money is expected to be transferred to claimants in early August but less than half of the total $40 million USD needed has been secured.
“Now that the amount paid has become clear, we can all see what value Matalan puts on the lives of those garment workers employed to make its clothes. This payment is an insult to those families that lost everything when that building came down and we would urge them to make further payments immediately”, says Sam Maher.