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Bangladesh Agrees To Plan To Improve Worker Conditions After Factory Collapse

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A sewing machine lies in the rubble from the collapsed garment factory building, Saturday, May 4, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the aftermath of last week's building collapse that killed more than 530 people, Bangladesh's garment manufacturers may face a choice of reform or perish. Home to five factories that supplied clothing to retailers in Europe and the United States, the shoddily constructed building's collapse has put a focus on the high human price paid when Bangladeshi govern | AP

Bangladeshi authorities are taking steps to improve worker safety in the wake of a factory collapse that killed hundreds, Bloomberg reports.

Bangladesh’s government, employers and workers have agreed to a plan with the International Labour Organization that would relocate unsafe factories, retrain workers injured in recent factory disasters, recruit more government inspectors and allow for collective bargaining, among other provisions, according to a statement posted on the ILO website.

The proposals will be submitted to the Bangladeshi parliament in June and the government plans to cooperate, the country’s Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told Bloomberg.

The new rules come just a few weeks after a garment factory collapse killed more than 600. The disaster, as well as others like it, including a deadly factory fire late last year, exposed the flaws in a system where Western retailers pay to have clothes produced abroad at bargain basement prices, but have little oversight over the factories where the clothes are made.

Activists and protesters around the world have put increasing pressure on retailers to change their business practices in response to the disasters and some have already taken steps to address the situation. Disney told its vendors in March -- before the deadly factory collapse -- to stop doing business in Bangladesh. Representatives from Walmart, the Gap and other retailers met last week to come up with a plan to prevent future disasters, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some of those retailers have also put pressure on Bangladesh in the past to improve conditions for the country’s workers. H&M’s CEO asked Bangladesh’s prime minister to boost the minimum wage and establish annual wage reviews last year.

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