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Retailers Set Safety Plan for Bangladesh Factories

  • VOA News

Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar, April 11, 2013.

Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar, April 11, 2013.

An alliance of 17 leading U.S. and Canadian retailers has unveiled a five-year safety plan for Bangladesh garment factories aimed at improving safety conditions.

A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.

A Bangladeshi rescuer stands amid the rubble of a garment factory building that collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 12, 2013.

The move, announced Wednesday, follows the collapse of a clothing factory outside Dhaka in April that killed more than 1,100 workers - the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry.

The pact follows a similar commitment in May from 70 mainly-European retailers, unions and activist groups to improve safety in Bangladesh's notoriously dangerous clothing plants.

The North American retailers' plan calls for the inspections of all factories supplying their garments within a year, and for public disclosure of the findings. The agreement also calls for the establishment of basic public safety standards within three months.

Bangladesh's Ambassador to the United States, Akramul Qader, welcomed the North American plan, which includes a pledge from the group to collaborate with the European retailers.

Activists had criticized the U.S. and Canadian pact, known as the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, which - unlike the European deal - is not legally binding.

But the chief compliance officer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Jay Jorgensen, said the separate agreement was needed because the European pact would subject American retailers to unlimited liability and litigation.

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