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Global Retailers Set Deadline for Bangladesh Safety Plan

Western retailers have set May 15 (Wednesday) as the deadline to sign onto an agreement led by the International Labor Organization to improve working conditions at garment factories in Bangladesh.

The deal comes as authorities end their search near the capital, Dhaka, for victims last month's building collapse that killed 1,127 garment factory workers.

The pact will require retailers to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and cover the costs of repairs and improvements.

The safety deal brings together Sweden's H & M chain, the largest buyer of garments from Bangladesh; the Dutch-owned C&A chain, Inditex, owner of the Zara clothing chain, and two British retailers -- Primark and Tesco. Additionally, the New York-based PVH Corporation -- the parent company of the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod brands -- agreed to upgrade a similar agreement reached in 2012.

Among the holdouts are the U.S. retail giant Walmart and Gap which have said they will launch their own safety program.

Officials say nearly 2,500 people were rescued alive including a 19-year old seamstress found Friday after being buried under the rubble of the building for 17 days.

Authorities have arrested at least nine people in connection with the collapse, including the owner of the building.



The government says it has shut down 18 garment factories for safety reasons following the collapse.

This week the Bangladesh government announced plans to raise the minimum wage for garment workers and allow for the easier formation of labor unions.

The April 24 accident near Dhaka sparked days of demonstrations by garment workers against their pay and working conditions.

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