Aug 4th, 2014
Matalan: Day of action
By Ali Torabi
On Wednesday, thanks to people-power, Matalan shifted its position and decided to pay into the official compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster. But they refused to reveal how much. So on Saturday hundreds of 38 Degrees members came together outside Matalan stores across the country to ask #howmuch!
Together we managed to cover most of Matalan’s 220 stores around the UK. Many customers shared our concerns and took them up with staff inside. Matalan HQ were clearly feeling the heat from both their customers and their staff.
Wendy attended a peaceful protest at Matalan Southport:
“A very polite store manager directed by head office asked us to move from store entrance which we did. Matalan proudly display poster saying garments are quality checked 15 times before reaches customer. Pity can’t claim the same for the factories they use!”
Joe, a member from Southampton, sent these pictures:
Sally at Malvern:
“Good interactions with lots of public, leaflets handed out, good discussions had and letters given to management who really did not want to take them! Management very aware of us and police visited! Let’s hope it gets some useful results but good to do anyway as awareness raising exercise.”
Frances went to her local Matalan shop in Southall:
“A small group of us, including my 2 teenage daughters at their first local demo, made a stand, shouted out and handed out info outside our local Southall Matalan this morning. We gave the store manager three signed letters and many leaflets to customers as they entered and exited. Their security guard politely asked us to leave and we politely refused. Many customers stood and listened to our information and several asked how they could get more info. So it was well worth doing and we hope that it has some effect in gaining as much ongoing compensation and possible.”
Jane in Edinburgh said:
“We had a few fliers with us and had interesting and friendly conversations with most customers we approached – some already new about the campaign, others hoped to go online to sign up and encourage Matalan to be more open with their commitment.
The management asked us to leave the premises at the same time as the local constabulary turned up. The policeman helpfully advised us that if asked to leave the inside of the building we had to, however outside the curtilage of the building we were in a public place and at liberty to continue.”
Meanwhile at the other end of the country, 38 Degrees members joined each other outside of Matalan’s shop in Brighton:
Mary at Trafford Manchester had this experience:
“I had phoned the store on Wednesday as I’m disabled and couldn’t manage Skelmersdale. I said I was a regular customer (true) but that I couldn’t shop there again until they handed over the cash to Bangladesh. I then took a top back for a refund as I’d bought it a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t worn it and still had the receipt. I had a chat with the girl on the till – when she asked why I was returning it I told her and she said they had been told that the store had made adequate recompense to Bangladesh, so clearly the management care about what the staff think on the issue.
Rab at Galashiels told the office team:
“We spoke to the store manager who was informed that we were there as concerned customers and were extremely disappointed at the attitude of Matalan. Our protest was to draw attention to the plight of those injured and killed. We also informed the manager that protests were ongoing throughout the country on Saturday and she appeared unaware of this. We informed the manager that this was just the beginning and we were doing this in a low key to give their board the chance to remedy their stance but if they did not, there would be a significant protest outside their shop.”
Matalan store managers seem to have been instructed by Matalan HQ to try to get rid of us as quickly as possible. They had been given copies of the rather misleading and evasive statement which first appeared on their web site three days ago. Experts at the charity Labour Behind the Label responded to the statement line by line on our web site here:
What a fantastic day for 38 Degrees members. It was a truly inspiring to be part of something which happened all over the country like this. Thanks for being part of all this.