In the autumn, hundreds of LBL supporters sent postcards to Matalan. They looked like this (click the image to see the full size version).
This is Matalan’s response, which dozens of supporters forwarded to us.
So what does it tell us? Well, not much. Matalan reassures us that it cares about ethical sourcing, and talks about factory audits that it conducts. It seems that the ethical parts of its audits are conducted not by ethical specialists, as they are by most companies, but by its sourcing team. There’s a lot of evidence to show that auditing factories well for working conditions is very difficult.
More importantly, though, Matalan doesn’t respond to any of the requests in the postcard:
On wages, it talks only about the legal minimum, not about living wages. There’s a big difference.
Our card made a specific request about freedom of association, which is conspicuous by its absence from Matalan’s code of conduct. Matalan’s letter doesn’t mention this at all.
In general, then, Matalan’s letter indicates that it is, as the headline on our action card said, lagging behind on workers’ rights. It doesn’t engage with these two crucial issues at all. This brings us to the third request in the card, which was for Matalan to join the Ethical Trading Initiative, or another credible multi-stakeholder initiative. That may sound like a lot of jargon, but it essentially means that Matalan should work with other brands and with trade unions and labour rights groups who know what they’re talking about. Because Matalan clearly doesn’t.
Want to write back? See our letter-writing guide for more advice.