8 Jul 2013

Western retailers get behind safety at Bangladeshi factories

9:59 pm on 8 July 2013

Seventy top Western retailers have pledged to open up their Bangladesh factories to safety inspections within nine months, as part of an agreement in the wake of a garment factory collapse that claimed more than 1100 lives.

The legally binding agreement signed with unions in Dhaka means the mainly European brands will underwrite repairs and renovations if inspections reveal their factories to be unsafe, the news agency AFP reports.

However, American brands such as Walmart and Gap have snubbed the accord and opted for self-regulation.

Two Australian brands, Coles and Rivers, are also yet to sign the accord.

The task of inspecting and improving factories could prove hugely daunting.

A survey by a prestigious Dhaka-based engineering university last week found nine out of 10 Bangladeshi garment plants are risky structures, and many were built without qualified engineers.