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Matalan: Events this Saturday

August 1st, 2014 by

Matalan are starting to shift. But we still have some way to go before survivors of the Rana Plaza factory disaster get the compensation they deserve. So this Saturday, 38 Degrees members across the country are going to take the message where Matalan can’t possibly ignore it.

Up and down the country, 38 Degrees members are visiting Matalan stores at 11am Saturday morning. They’ll gather outside to hand out leaflets. Then they’ll pay the store manager a visit and hand them a letter asking Matalan to pay fair compensation for the victims of the factory collapse.

Our emails, phone calls, Twitter and Facebook messages have already shaken Matalan bosses. So imagine the impact when all the local store managers start phoning HQ to report that it’s on their doorsteps now. Matalan will realise that failure to pay fair compensation risks ruining their reputation with their customers.

Can you join in? It’ll take half an hour or so, at the Matalan store nearest you – please click here for details and to RSVP.

On Wednesday night, 38 Degrees members took our demands to the company’s HQ near Wigan. The public pressure had clearly got to Matalan bosses – after months of refusing, they finally promised to pay into the official disaster compensation fund.

This is progress, and proves our campaign is starting to work. Every single penny for the victims and survivors of this terrible disaster is good news.

But there’s a BIG catch. Matalan are refusing to say how much they’ve now contributed. Why are they hushing this up? Are they trying to get away with paying as little as possible? Other companies have made their contributions public – Primark has paid in £9 million, for example. There’s a risk that Matalan are offering only a token amount.

We need to push them to publish how much they’ve put into the fund to prove it’s a proper contribution, not just a token amount.

Store visits this weekend will up the pressure on Matalan bosses at just the right time. If we keep the pressure on, together we can make sure the victims of the factory disaster get fair compensation from Matalan, not tokenism.

There’s information on the web page about what you could do while you’re there, how to talk to staff at the Matalan stores, and a link to download flyers to hand out to customers.

Thank you for everything you’ve done so far – we are definitely starting to win, so let’s keep it up!

When the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, 1130 workers died and many more were severely injured. Compensation won’t bring any of these people back, but it will help the survivors rebuild their lives. Public pressure has helped make sure retailers like Primark make a proper, public contribution to the scheme. Let’s keep up the pressure until Matalan does the same.

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Matalan: Guide for event at your local store

July 31st, 2014 by

It’s simple to go along to your local Matalan store this Saturday, and this guide will give you all the information and print-outs you should need.

There won’t be a member of the 38 Degrees staff team at your local event, but there will be other 38 Degrees members. You can check on the events page you signed up to for how many people are expected.

Together, hundreds of 38 Degrees members putting pressure on Matalan across the country can push Matalan to say how much they’re going to pay to victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Top tips for joining other 38 Degrees members at your nearest Matalan store

What to take with you

  • Leaflets to hand out (download here)
  • Your letter to the store manager (download here)
  • Any posters or placards you’d like to make and take (some ideas here)
  • The contact details of any local press you’ve invited along

Click the links below for copies of the leaflet, letter to store managers, and poster ideas:




On the day: handing out your leaflets

Try to find a prominent place in front of or near the Matalan store where you’re leafleting. Gather together with other 38 Degrees members who have come along.

Depending on where the Matalan store is located you should be able to leaflet in front of it. You are well within your rights to do this: if staff or security ask you to leave just remember you have every right to be there! There’s no need to leave, but do remember to be polite.

If the store is inside a shopping centre then remember that you are on private property. If you’re not able to leaflet in front of the store itself you can always stand in front of the shopping centre.

If you want to hand out leaflets inside the store you may be asked to leave by staff or security. It’s probably best to leave if asked to do so. Make sure you hand in your letter to the store manager first though!

Speaking to Matalan customers and staff

The main point to remember is to be polite when speaking to customers and staff. Take the time to explain the campaign to them and you’ll probably find that they agree with you.

Before hand: Promoting your event

Now that you’ve signed up to go along to the local event, you could help make it a big event by sharing it with your friends, family and colleagues!

If you’re on Twitter and Facebook, you can use the share buttons on the events page to post it on your wall and to tweet about the event. And once you’ve shared it, why not ask friends and family to do the same?

If you don’t use social media why not email friends and family instead? Are there any local groups who might be interested who you could get in touch with?

Local media

It’s worth getting in touch with your local paper or radio stations about the event in case they want to come down on the day. Make sure they know when and where it’s happening, and who to contact for more information.


Key facts about the campaign

Matalan: tell us how much you have paid into the official Rana Plaza Compensation Trust Fund for victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.

The call is backed by:

  • Over 103,000 signatories on the 38 Degrees petition
  • 10,157 members of the public on Twitter
  • 13,607 members of the public on Facebook
  • UNI Global Union
  • Labour Behind the Label
  • And Government ministers from seven European countries including the UK, France, Germany and Italy

When the Rana Plaza Factory Complex collapsed in April 2013, at least 1,129 workers died and over 2,515 were injured. Matalan were among the companies to source clothing from New Wave – a factory based inside the Rana Plaza building.

It’s good news for people power that Matalan has agreed to pay into the official compensation fund – after thousands of people pushed them to pay up this week. But tens of thousands of people are still waiting to hear whether Matalan has paid a fair amount – or whether this is just a throwaway payment designed to shut down the debate.

Let’s not forget the issue at the heart of this: the responsibility Matalan has to the thousands of people killed or devastatingly injured in the same factory that made its clothes.

Matalan need to say how much they have paid into the official compensation fund.

Talking points
• Have you ever shopped at Matalan? If you have make sure to say so to the store manager.
• What does this make you think about Matalan as a business that says it’s family-friendly?
• Matalan’s competitor Primark has said how much it has donated to the official fund – £9 million. Why won’t Matalan say too?

Who else has paid?
All other culpable major UK retailers have paid, including H&M, Primark, Debenhams and Asda.

You can print out this information to take with you on the day by clicking here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Matalan’s statement and expert rebuttal from Labour Behind the Label

July 31st, 2014 by

Read below for a rebuttal of Matalan’s response to our campaign for them to pay into the official compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza disaster, by Labour Behind the Label who support garment workers worldwide.

When Matalan said …

We continue to be deeply shocked by the tragedy at Rana Plaza and its effects on the families of those killed or injured. From the beginning, we, at Matalan, realised that urgent and continued support was needed to get help to the families as soon as possible. Matalan attended meetings and took part in conference calls with two organisations that are committed to obtaining such support – ILO and BRAC. We have always sought to establish the best way of getting funds to the families.

Labour Behind the Label say …

Matalan were involved in meetings to set up the process for compensation at the beginning of the process. That is why Labour Behind the Label and other organisations were shocked when Matalan chose to walk away from the process.

When Matalan said …

Many months ago we contributed to BRAC so that the people that need the help received it as soon as possible.

Geoffrey Salkeld, Trustee and Acting CEO, BRAC UK, said: “Matalan’s support has enabled BRAC to deliver the help that is urgently needed to the survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy. BRAC’s 40 years experience of emergency response and poverty alleviation in Bangladesh meant that it was uniquely placed to deliver immediate relief to the survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy in April 2013″.

Labour Behind the Label say …

Labour Behind the Label has no quarrel with organisations like BRAC delivering emergency relief, and they were well placed to do this work. But this is a separate issue. We are calling for funding to provide long term compensation, which will provide devastated families with an ongoing income for life. Not through loans, or support for retraining, although these are helpful services, but through income payments that they are free to use in whichever way they deem best for their families.

In recognition that setting up a formal system for compensation would not be an overnight job other brands including Primark, Loblaw and Bon Marche also contributed for short term/emergency relief, as did many other organisations. This however does not excuse brands from also paying into the fund for long term compensation. Brands like Primark have contributed into the long term compensation fund as well.

When Matalan said …

We should emphasise that our relationship with the New Wave Organisation (the factory in Rana Plaza) never went beyond an initial test period. This period was between February and March 2013 and ended before the tragedy occurred.  The reason for not pursuing future orders was commercial and the supplier was formally notified that their quality standards did not match Matalan’s requirements.

Labour Behind the Label say …

The garment industry is run on short term orders. The existence of long term, continuous production is rare and in fact it is this constant switching from one supplier to another that has helped to undermine efforts to improve conditions in the industry. Few of the brands associated with RP had long term orders with the factory. Regardless of the size or length of order and relationship basic due diligence requires brands using these facilities to do the basic check required to ensure at least that the factory is safe.

Matalan, along with every other brand failed to carry out these checks. Had they done so, and informed the authorities of their concerns then they could have prevented this disaster. The fact they failed to do this is at the heart of why they must now take responsibility.

When Matalan said …

The ILO’s donation fund has received numerous donations from the Industry and other organisations. Matalan has made donations to ILO and BRAC.

Labour Behind the Label say …

We are unaware of any donation made by Matalan to the ILO, although we understand they now claim to have contributed in the past 24 hours. The way the Fund is set up allows for anonymous donations – but for the public to confirm the truth of this statement Matalan must request from the Arrangement that their donation be publicly declared. Until they do this we cannot in anyway reassure their customers that Matalan have donated. If such a donation exists they must request that it is made public so their consumers can have confidence in their statement.

When Matalan said …

We would like to make it clear that we have never been ordered by any organisation to pay compensation or been found culpable for the tragedy. However, our company is happy to continue to make substantial contributions to help the people who need it most. The ILO has confirmed that it has made no orders for payments nor made deadlines for such payments from any organisation in the Industry.

Labour Behind the Label say …

It is not a question of being “ordered” to do so. The Fund is set up as a voluntary fund – this was set up in such a way as to remove any barriers to donations that having a requirement would create. However the Coordination Committee of the Arrangement, representing government, workers, and industry has requested a donation from matalan. The UK government has also called on them to do so and now, so have tens of thousands of their customers.  Whether Matalan (or any other brand) could be held legally responsible is as yet untested.

The priority of all involved was to get payments as quickly as possible to victims, and it is believed that the legal process could take years to complete. Given the shock professed by all the clients of Rana Plaza in the aftermath, we genuinely believed that those brands linked to the tragedy would match these words with action and be more than willing to contribute their share to the Fund. Over six months later the fact that this has not happened in a number of cases in an ongoing source of frustration and disappointment from all involved.

When Matalan said …

The ILO has said: “ILO encourages brands and other donors to given generously to the Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund as we see the needs of the victims as an important issue for the industry to settle. However, It is not ILOs role to campaign or to make any specific demands of any donor and ILO has not done this”.

Labour Behind the Label say …

The ILO is not a campaigning organisation and its role in the process is as a neutral facilitator. It would be therefore inappropriate for them to comment or make demands on particular companies. It is clear from a number of statements issued by the organisation and from its central role in developing the process that it does however consider the Arrangement the best way to deliver long term compensation in line with ILO convention 121.

When Matalan said …

Matalan take their ethical responsibility seriously and like all other retailers, it is evident that audits require the input of structural engineers. This is one of the reasons that Matalan has also joined the Bangladesh Accord whose key principle is that no one should go to their place of work in fear of injury.

Labour Behind the Label say …

We reiterate that this is misleading – the Accord’s role is prevent future disasters like Rana Rlaza, not to deal with the aftermath of the disaster itself. That said the Accord has called on all its members to contribute to the Fund, this call includes Matalan as an Accord member.

When Matalan said …

We are extremely proud of our connections with the people of Bangladesh, and our work with the garment industry in the country as a whole, and as such wanted to offer our support.

As well as our donation to ILO we hope to provide further support to BRAC. The function of this scheme is to enhance the long term financial security of families who are currently vulnerable in terms of their financial status by providing, for example, Medical Insurance Cover to prevent families from going into further debt and to ensure that medical services will be taken care of for the next five years. This is crucially important. There is a Monthly Reserve Fund that provides a monthly income for the living needs of families which will be carried out in coordination with BRAC Bank or BKash. There is also the Livelihood Assistance, which arranges integrated options so that families can ensure a sustainable future.

Labour Behind the Label say …

In order to be in line with international standards monthly payments must be available to every single person affected by the disaster and must be calculated using a specific formula. The reason that payments are being given out only now is because each claimant has been supported to make claims that will ensure they get the full compensation they are entitled under international standards. These payments are based on what was lost by that family in the disaster. Again, whilst BRAC does good work, it neither provides income based on international standards nor does it provide such payments to every single dependant and worker affected by the disaster.

When Matalan said …

From Matalan’s experience in Bangladesh, we believe that BRAC have a superb team of people who can help victims and communities, it is pleasing to see that the ILO have the same goal.

Labour Behind the Label say …

BRAC, as a privately funded NGO, which is increasingly gaining much of its funding from the private sector, is not accountable to the people using its service who have no input or influence over the process. The ILO is an entirely different body, that brings together all those on the ground that have a genuine stake in the garment industry and includes legitimate representatives of workers, the industry and the government of Bangladesh. Its role and objective is develop a long term, nationally based system for compensation, and the Rana Plaza Arrangement has been designed in such a way as to provide a model for such a system to be developed. Again, the ILO is about the promotion of workers’ rights in the industry, which includes the right to compensation. Should the respect of workers’ rights become the norm in Bangladesh workers would no longer have to rely on charity to make ends meet.

When Matalan said …

If members of your organisation would like to speak with us directly we would welcome the opportunity to arrange for those conversations to take place. It is very important that everybody works together and that sustainable funding from responsible sources is maintained, whilst ensuring that there is continued awareness in the Retail Industry of the long term effects of such a tragedy.

Labour Behind the Label say …

Sustainable funding is important, but much more important is the willingness of brands and retailers to accept the responsibility they have to those workers making their clothes. This includes respect for those workers organisations which represent the interests of garment workers, all of which are supportive of and directly involved in the Rana Plaza Arrangement. This is why we are requested that Matalan take that responsibility now and pay into the Fund.

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Matalan: almost there?

July 30th, 2014 by

It’s maybe, possibly, good news! Matalan bosses met 38 Degrees members today at their HQ in Skelmersdale, near Wigan. They said that after all the pressure we’ve put them under, they’ve decided to contribute to the official Rana Plaza compensation fund after all.

But here’s the catch. There are two ways of donating to the fund, anonymously and publicly. And it seems Matalan want to keep their donation anonymous. Is it £3m? Is it £100,000? Have they donated at all? It’s impossible to say.

So here’s the plan: let’s ask Matalan, directly and overwhelmingly, to make their donation public. Matalan bosses said that your tweets this week were a crucial part of their decision to donate. Can you tweet at Matalan again right now, asking them to make their donation public? Please click here.

When 38 Degrees members handed our petition to Matalan today, it had over 96,000 signatures on it. Alongside more than 15,000 tweets and Facebook posts, and over 2,000 calls, they’ve certainly felt people power this week.

Matalan bosses spent a lot of time in the meeting talking about the charities they work with in Bangladesh. The passion and the pride they have for that work really shone through. So if they’ve added to that by donating to the official compensation fund, then it’s wonderful news – why keep it secret?

38 Degrees member Maria put it best:

“If they’ve actually donated to the Rana Plaza compensation fund, and if they’re proud of it, then why won’t they make it public?”

So let’s push Matalan one step further. Can you tweet at Matalan now, asking them to make their donation public and #howmuch they paid? Please click here.

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Matalan #payup

July 30th, 2014 by

Rana Plaza clothing factory, Bangladesh. When the building collapsed in April last year, 1,129 workers died and 2,515 were injured.

In the aftermath of the disaster, big retailers whose clothes were made in Rana Plaza came under pressure to compensate the survivors and the families of those who died. An official Fund took contributions from companies including Asda, Debenhams, H&M and Primark.

But major British retailer Matalan haven’t contributed at all.  They have until Thursday to pay their fair share, or some survivors won’t get the money they’re owed. So let’s ramp up the pressure.

Matalan care about their image. The last thing they’ll want is tens of thousands of their potential customers signing a petition which spotlights their refusal to pay. So let’s do just that. Click here to sign the petition now.

Matalan owe just £3m – small change for multi-millionaire owners the Hargreaves family, most of whom live in tax-haven Monaco.  The company made sales of £1.1bn in 2013, and spent over £13m on advertising alone.

They say they’ve donated to charity instead. But charity isn’t the same as compensation for loss of earnings to rebuild shattered lives. Let’s hammer that point home.

38 Degrees members have taken on big companies before – and won. A month ago, tens of thousands of tweets got Barclays Bank to rule out investing in a dirty coal port at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. And earlier in the year, we got eBay to stop selling banned bee-killer pesticides.

Just like Barclays and eBay, Matalan are sensitive to what the public thinks. They do their best to look like a family-friendly, respectable British company. So not paying their share of compensation is embarrassing – and they won’t want tens of thousands of their potential customers signing a petition about it.

We’ve got four days to pile public pressure on Matalan. The bigger we make this, the faster they’ll respond.

Can you sign the petition now? The staff team are trying to get Matalan or their PR company to meet 38 Degrees members and take the petition. If they refuse, we could just stand outside their HQ until they meet us.

Either way, the petition has to be huge if it’s going to make an impact. Can you sign the petition to Matalan now? Click here.

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Hampstead Heath ponds

July 30th, 2014 by

38 Degrees member Mary has started a Campaigns by You petition to save Hampstead Heath ponds – where the City of London want to build giant dams. Mary says they’re totally unnecessary.

Here’s what Mary says:

“Hampstead Heath is a beautiful green space close to the heart of London, freely available to everyone to enjoy. I swim daily at one of the ponds on the Heath. These ponds are now being threatened with heavy engineering work by the Heath’s custodian, the City of London. This will cause irreversible damage and is unnecessary. The planning application to do this work is now being considered by Camden Council and a wide coalition of Heath users has come together to urge Camden Council to reject this dreadful plan”

If you agree with Mary, click here to sign her petition now.

Just last week, Hampstead residents won their campaign to keep Sainsbury’s out of South End Green. If enough of us get behind Mary’s campaign, we could persuade Camden Council to save Hampstead Heath for future generations too.

If you disagree with Mary’s campaign, or there’s another issue close to your heart, you can start your own campaign here.

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Victory in Hamsptead

July 29th, 2014 by

38 Degrees members in Hampstead are proving that people-power can triumph over big business. Last week 38 Degrees member, Jessica, won her campaign to stop a Sainsbury’s being built on South End Green!

Sainsbury’s wanted to open what Jessica called “an identikit chain store.” But she had other ideas. Jessica wanted to protect small independent shops, that make up “the heart of a thriving community”. After creating a petition on Campaigns by You she gained over 2000 signatures in just a few weeks – and delivered the petition to Sainsbury’s CEO at their AGM.

Photo credit: London Evening Standard/Nigel Howard

Jessica said about the victory:

“This is a seismic victory for the community who have acted with one voice to inform the senior management teams of the landlords, Dorringtons and Sainsburys of their concerns. …Well done to you all. The world seems a better place to live today and by working together and continuing to nurture the connections that we have all made through this campaign, we can all secure a better tomorrow.”

Jessica’s campaign began when she spent a few minutes creating a petition on Campaigns by You. But launching a petition is only the start. And signatures are more than a list of names and email addresses. They’re people who care about the same things, who want to come together to make real change.

For Jessica, this meant local people in Hampstead volunteering to tell their friends, make placards and even buy shares in Sainsbury’s so they could cause a stir at the AGM. And word is spreading fast, already a new petition has sprung up to save Hampstead Heath ponds.

So, if you want to start your own people-powered petition on an issue close to your heart, it’s really easy to do, just click here.

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Your decision – 26th July

July 28th, 2014 by

Every week a group of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for last week.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week.

The next biggest issues were: cracking down on tax dodging by big companies, protecting public land (like forests, parks and footpaths) from being sold off and campaigning for education policies that enable every child to reach their full potential.

You can see how 38 Degrees members voted on other issues on the graph below. The blue on the graph shows how many people answered ‘a lot’ in support of the campaigns listed, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.


Weekly poll 26th July

What do you think? Please comment below. For a full-size chart please click here.

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Gaza, Israel, over 800 deaths: what could we do?

July 25th, 2014 by

In the past 16 days of fighting in Israel and Gaza, 797 Palestinians and 33 Israelis have been killed and thousands more have been injured. The Israeli military is attacking a captive population in a strip of land a quarter of the size of London. Gaza’s rulers, Hamas, have fired over 2,100 rockets into Israel.

The war is over 2,300 miles away from the UK. The conflict is long, bloody and seemingly neverending. It’s easy to feel powerless.

But together, 38 Degrees members number 2.6 million now. As a movement, we stand for peace - and we’ve acted at moments of international crisis before.

Together, we could pressure the government to use their influence on the international stage to stop the fighting. Or we could add pressure to big multinationals to pull out of the area. Or we could raise money to help families and children on the ground. Or we could do nothing at all – or something else entirely.

Here’s some context:

- The new UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has called for a swift ceasefire.
- Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Council voted to pass a resolution to investigate Israel for war crimes. The UK was one of 17 countries to abstain.
- International campaigning organisation Avaaz is pressuring big multinational companies to pull their investments out of Israel and Palestine.
- The British Red Cross has launched an appeal to fund emergency health care and repairs to water and sewage networks.
- The World Health Organisation has demanded a humanitarian corridor in Gaza.
- 38 Degrees members have started 7 campaigns and counting on Campaigns by You, including asking the government and UK companies to consider sanctions against Israel.:

“We demand the British government & opposition immediately discusses sanctions on Israel, including withholding the billions of pounds of aid our country sends to Israel each year..”

“To use their power internationally be it at the UN or within the EU to use its position to bring the Israeli government accountable for the massacre in Gaza, Palestine… ”

“Is there anything you can do to stop the Israeli army from bombing civilian families in Gaza? These are not military targets; children and innocent civilians should not be being targeted and killed in this war.”

Dear Sainsburys, Please consider your position on stocking oranges (and any other produce) from Israel. Israel’s invasion and blockade of Palestine is a contravention of human rights.

“Email Philip Hammond and ask him to urgently call the Israeli ambassador and demand that Israel halt attacks on civilians in Gaza…”

“Provide the direct political intervention with world leaders political pressure to stop israel killing the peoples of Gaza, Palastine and the terrorisation and illegal occupation of Palastine.”

“Currently Google only has Israel on the map which includes Palestine – Gaza and The West Bank…”

What do you think? Join the conversation in the comments under this blog post.

To post a new comment, click in the ‘leave a message’ box at the top of the comments feed. You’ll need to either sign in with an account you already hold (on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google – just click the appropriate icon), or else you’ll need to put in a tiny bit of information.

To create a Disqus account, so that it’s easier to comment quickly in the future, you need to do three quick things:

1. Click under ‘pick a name’ and put in the name you’d like your comment to appear under

2. Input a valid email address (so they know you’re not a spammer)

3. Choose a password that you’d like to use for your new Disqus account.

Neither your email address nor your password will be visible when you post.

Alternatively, you can click the tick box marked ‘I’d rather post as a guest’, in which case you still need to pick a name and put in a valid email address, but you won’t need to give them a password.

You’re ready to post!

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Bees: Liz Truss MP receives our giant card

July 24th, 2014 by

This morning, 38 Degrees members handed the world’s most-signed greetings card – signed by a whopping 125,000 of us – to the new environment secretary Liz Truss MP. In it, a clear message: protect our bees.

Together, 38 Degrees members asked Truss to do everything in her power to protect bees. Including championing the EU ban on harmful pesticides. The card looked really impressive as it was carried into the Department for Environment!

Truss’ predecessor, Owen Paterson, wasn’t a friend of the bees. Instead, he stood up for pesticide companies and big agribusiness. He made his views clear in an article he wrote for the Telegraph newspaper last week when he brushed aside people calling for a sustainable environment as the ‘Green Blob’.

Liz Truss will be under pressure from the same corporate lobbyists. But now, with our record-breaking card, she also knows that she’s bee-ing watched by thousands of ordinary people. A sobering prospect for any politician in the year leading up to an election.

The likes of Syngenta and other pesticide businesses are waiting in the wings to put in new applications to use harmful pesticides to bees. But together, we’re ready to pull out all the stops to make sure protecting our bees is at the forefront of Liz Truss’s mind.

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