News Asia-Pacific

Friday 29 August 2014

Matalan joins Primark to compensate victims as factory toll reaches 382

Josie Clarke and Neil Lancefield

Published 30/04/2013 | 05:00

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Matalan is to provide financial aid to those affected by the Bangladesh building collapse that took the lives of 400 people after bosses at Primark said they will pay compensation to the families of their workers.

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Matalan said it was not using any suppliers based in the building at the time of the collapse last Wednesday but would "provide financial aid and other support to help those affected".

It said in a statement: "We offer our condolences to all those affected by this tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the whole community.

"Whilst we were not using any suppliers based in the building, as soon as we heard the news we started working with our key contacts in Bangladesh to explore how we could support those involved.

"We can confirm that we are working closely with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Export Association and our local team in Bangladesh to provide financial and other support to help those affected."

The move follows the compensation announcement by budget clothing chain Primark, which occupied a floor of the eight-storey building. Some of the workers injured and killed in the incident worked for a company that supplied the brand.

In a statement released on its website, a Primark spokesman said: "Primark's team in Bangladesh has been working to put in place immediate and long-term help for victims of this disaster.

"We have partnered with a local NGO to address the immediate needs of victims, including the provision of emergency food aid to families. This initiative began in Bangladesh immediately (when) the extent of the disaster became clear.

"Primark will also pay compensation to the victims of this disaster who worked for its supplier. This will include the provision of long-term aid for children who have lost parents, financial aid for those injured and payments to the families of the deceased."

The eight-storey Rana Plaza building in the capital Dhaka housed thousands of workers when it collapsed.

The owner of the premises has been arrested and is being questioned on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forcing people to work.

Primark said it would be "reviewing our commitments constantly" to ensure they meet the needs of the victims, and also urged other retailers who used suppliers based in the building to offer assistance.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: "If UK high street chains like Primark had put in place proper measures to ensure the workers who make their clothes are safe, these deaths could have been avoided.

"While Primark has taken some responsibility, the retailer and the other companies involved must pay full compensation, including loss of earnings, sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement and ensure such a disaster never happens again."

Canadian company Loblaw, whose clothing line was partly produced in the factory, has also said it will provide compensation for victims.

Loblaw said it aims to ensure victims and their families "receive benefits now and in the future" but that it was still working out the details of how it will deliver the support.

Workers at the factory helped to produce items for Loblaw's Joe Fresh clothing line, as well as for a number of other retailers.

Spokeswoman Julija Hunter said the company plans to offer help "in the best and most meaningful way possible".

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