UK clothing chain Matalan has bowed to pressure and made a donation to the UN-backed fund to compensate the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse – one day before the deadline for payments. The retailer, however, refused to say how much money it had offered to the fund.
The announcement came after shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy and shadow international development minister Alison McGovern wrote to Matalan boss Jason Hargreaves, the son of the chain's billionaire founder John, asking him to reconsider the retailer's position and pay into the compensation fund, which is well short of its $40m (£24m) target.
The collapse of the Bangladeshi factory killed 1,129 people and injured 2,515 in April 2013. Matalan was the only large British retailer not to have donated money, according to the campaign group 38 Degrees.
The group's Susannah Compton said: "This week, tens of thousands of people emailed, called and tweeted Matalan to tell them they couldn't walk away from the devastating consequences of the Rana Plaza disaster.
"It looks like good news for people power that Matalan has said that it will pay into the official compensation fund.
"But 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 has paid, its customers will still be waiting to see what kind of business it really is."
Matalan has also contributed to the Rana Plaza Survivors Rehabilitation Scheme, which is managed by Bangladeshi development organisation BRAC. A Matalan spokesman said it had committed to giving 100% of the money it earned from clothes made in Rana Plaza to the BRAC fund, but the amount would be small given that it only used the factory for a few weeks in February and March 2013.
Other British retailers linked to the factory, including Primark, Asda, Debenhams and N Brown, have contributed to the fund, which is backed by the International Labour Organisation, a UN agency, to support the victims' families.
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