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Wal-Mart Linked to Collapsed Bangladeshi Factory; The Gap Rejects Safety Pact

HeadlineMay 15, 2013

The retail giant Wal-Mart has been tied to the collapsed Bangladeshi industrial building where more than 1,100 workers died last month. The New York Times reports documents found in the rubble show a contractor had hired one of the building’s factories to produce jeans for Wal-Mart stores. The contract was over a year old, and Wal-Mart maintains it was not using the factory when the collapse occurred. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart reaffirmed its rejection of a plan requiring firms that profit from low wages in Bangladesh to help pay for fire safety and building improvements at factories. Wal-Mart says it is conducting its own safety review of its Bangladeshi factories and will post the results in six months. On Tuesday, six more companies, including Carrefour, Marks & Spencer and El Corte Inglés, signed on to the plan, which requires companies to conduct independent safety inspections, pay for repairs and end dealings with factories that refuse to improve safety. In addition to Wal-Mart, another major U.S. retailer, Gap, is refusing to adopt the plan unless it drastically reduces the liability of companies found to be in violation. In response, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitor, said: “Gap’s demand is that the agreement be made unenforceable — and therefore meaningless.”

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