Matalan donates to Rana Plaza fund for victims of collapsed Bangladesh clothing factory

A UN-backed organisation hopes to raise $40million for victims

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Budget clothing firm Matalan has  bowed to pressure from campaigners and has announced that it has donated to a UN-backed fund for victims of a collapsed clothing factory in Bangladesh.

However, campaigners remain concerned that the company has not disclosed how much it will pay to help compensate people left with disabilities, and families who lost their main providers.

The Rana Plaza factory collapsed in April 2013, killing 1,129 people and injuring more than 2,515 others. Matalan bought supplies made in the eight-story complex in Dhaka, but – until Wednesday - was the only major British firm which had not paid into the Rana Plaza donor trust fund backed by the UN’s backed International Labour Organisation, according to campaign groups 38 Degrees and Labour Behind the Label.

Wal-Mart, the US owner of Asda, is also backing the plan, while Primark has pledged $8m, according to the agency.

Organisers of the Rana Plaza fund had that suggested Matalan could donate $3million towards its $20million target for the first round of payments. It aims to raise $40m in total.

Matalan said it had instead made an undisclosed donation to BRAC, an NGO focused on rehabilitation and retraining for survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster.

On Monday, the campaign groups launched a social-media campaign which saw tens of thousands of people send emails, make calls and send tweets urging Matalan to contribute.

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Jim Murphy, and Shadow Development Minister Alison McGovern also called on Matalan to pay towards compensation on Wednesday.

“It looks like good news for people power that Matalan has said that it will pay into the official compensation fund,” said Susannah Compton of 38 Degrees on Wednesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Allan Leighton, Non Executive Chairman of Matalan, said the company was “proud” of the work it had done one the ground with BRAC in Bangladesh over the last few months.

“Together we have helped hundreds of people that have been injured or lost loved ones in the Rana Plaza tragedy and we are looking at ways to make sure this help continues. We have also made a donation to ILO.“

The firm also stressed that it had only used Rana Plaza on a short pilot basis, and the final order was delivered three weeks before the building collapsed. All proceeds from the clothes made will go to BRAC, it said.

It added it was neither found culpable for the tragedy, nor was it “ordered” to pay compensation.

"It's worrying to see that Matalan has clammed up about how much money it's paying in. Until Matalan says exactly how much it's paid, its customers will still be waiting to see what kind of business it really is - and whether it's really donating the £3m the official fund needs," said Ms Compton.

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