Matalan has not contributed to Rana Plaza trust 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 fashion retailer Matalan is facing pressure from campaigners to contribute to a compensation fund for victims of a collapsed clothing factory in Bangladesh.

Matalan bought supplies made in the eight-story Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka, but is the only major British firm which has not yet paid into the UN-backed International Labour Organisation fund, according to an investigation by campaigning organisation 38 Degrees and charity Labour Behind The Label.

The Rana Plaza collapsed in April 2013, killing 1,129 people and injuring more than 2,515. The disaster led to renewed international condemnation of the conditions endured by factory staff creating budget clothing for major western brands in the South Asian country.

On Monday, a social media campaign by 38 degrees saw Twitter users fire off around 1,200 tweets an hour at Matalan.

The agency had suggested that Matalan donates £3 million by Thursday, when it hopes to reach its $20 million target for the first round of payments. It aims to raise $40m in total to compensate victims left with disabilities, and families who have lost their main providers.

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

But Matalan, whose sales topped more than £1.1bn in 2013, has said it will give an undisclosed donation to BRAC, an NGO focused on rehabilitation and retraining for survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster.

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said: “If Primark can pay, why can’t Matalan?”

“Matalan says it’s a family-friendly business, yet it still hasn’t paid up the money it owes to the children of people who died in the same factory that made its clothes.

“Thousands of 38 Degrees members agree that it can’t be right for a company worth billions to be able to walk away from the consequences of one of the worst industrial disasters in living memory.

“Matalan may have made peppercorn donations to other charities, but that’s no substitute for the proper compensation it owes to the survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster,” he added.

Matalan has argued that it had only used Rana Plaza on a short pilot basis, and the final order was delivered three weeks before the building collapsed and all proceeds from the clothes made will go to BRAC.

It has not responded to a request for a comment from The Independent, but a spokesman told the Telegraph: “In order to come to this decision we have undertaken a significant level of due diligence and have looked to avoid public debates of where the right place to put our support should be.”