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Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney join garment factory safety talks

Retail representatives will meet in Frankfurt

Less than a month after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it wouldn’t compensate the 2012 factory fire victims, the company is now ramping up efforts to improve safety for factory workers abroad in light of a second, similar tragedy.

Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney Co. joined a list of other retailers that sent representatives to a meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, to discuss ways to improve factory worker safety in Bangladesh. Late last month, an eight-story factory fire in the country killed more than 400 people and injured many more.

This is the second deadly factory fire in Bangladesh in less than six months. Last November, 112 garment factory workers were killed and hundreds were injured when a fire ripped through their building. Investigators found Wal-Mart garments among the charred remains within the factory.

The purpose of the meeting in Frankfurt was to win support from companies, labor unions and nongovernmental groups for a national action plan aimed at increased safety measures for factories. According to attendee Peter McAllister, a director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, a document detailing the meeting will be published later this month.

“There will be a strong call for as many brands as we can, who source in Bangladesh, to get behind” the document calling for higher safety standards, he said.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about Bangladesh factory fires and other illegal labor practices:

Bangladeshi High Court orders seizure of assets following factory collapse

Wal-Mart and Sears won’t compensate factory fire victims

Chuck E. Cheese fined for child labor violations

Nestle to probe West African cocoa farms for suspected child labor

Shareholder sues Hershey over documents revealing alleged African child labor

Regulatory: A little-known anti-smuggling provision packs a knock-out anti-trafficking punch

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Cathleen Flahardy

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