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Rescue workers look for trapped garment workers in the Rana Plaza building which collapsed, in Savar, 30 km (19 miles) outside Dhaka April 24, 2013. A block housing garment factories and shops collapsed in Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing nearly 100 peopl
European companies are trying to avoid more disasters like this. American companies, not so much.
The Bangladeshi garment industry will undergo major safety improvements under a plan being unveiled by a group of 70 clothing brands and retailers Monday. The New York Times' Steven Greenhouse reports on the badly needed plan:
[I]nternational teams of fire and building safety inspectors, working with their counterparts in Bangladesh, will inspect all the supplier factories within nine months. They will focus on serious concerns like inadequate fire exits and fundamental structural flaws that could cause buildings to collapse. The agreement also calls for developing “action plans” to correct serious safety problems within nine months.

The accord’s members said that when inspectors uncovered severe safety risks at a factory, “a viable plan with renovations and repairs undertaken to address the hazards will be produced and workers will be paid while the factory remains closed.”

The names of the factories and their inspection reports will be made public, as well.

This plan represents a huge advance—and American companies are almost entirely absent, with the exception of a very few, including PVH (the parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger), Abercrombie & Fitch, and Sean John. Most American retailers and clothing brands refused to join because they might get sued. Or because even if they don't get sued, these changes won't come cheap. Instead, companies like Walmart, Gap, and Target are coming up with their own watered-down "safety" plan. If they can trumpet their plan loudly enough, they might be able to fool most consumers into thinking it guards Bangladeshi workers as well as it guards corporate reputations.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 01:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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