BANGLADESH FACTORY DISASTER

Inditex and H&M head up retailers’ pact for Bangladesh factories

Spanish and Swedish fashion giants plan broad coalition to improve conditions for workers

The world's two largest fashion retailers, Sweden's H&M and Spain's Inditex, have announced a pact to improve labor conditions in their factories to prevent a repeat of the building collapse in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of 1,127 people.

Among the proposals are a coordinated system of inspections, the results of which will be made public; greater rights for workers; and a financial commitment from retailers to improve conditions in factories in Bangladesh, the world's biggest exporter of clothes. "We hope for a broad coalition of signatures in order for the agreement to work effectively on the ground," H&M said in a statement.

Inditex founder Amancio Ortega has also pledged to support the pact, the final draft of which will be published on Wednesday. "The accord has not come out yet, but as you know we have played a very active part in its development," said a spokesman for the company, which includes the Zara chain. Six percent of Inditex's clothing was exported from Bangladesh last year, where factory workers earn the lowest minimum wage anywhere on the planet at 29 euros a month.

The Bangladesh government on Monday elected to close around 100 businesses in an attempt to calm street protests in Dhaka after the Rana Plaza factory disaster. The latest tragedy is the worst industrial accident since the 1984 gas leak at the Union Carbide India Limited plant in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people. Last November in Bangladesh a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory in Dhaka cost the lives of 117 workers.

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