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Wal-Mart and other retailers meet about factory safety in Bangladesh

Talks come on the heels of several disasters in Bangladesh factories

Wal-Mart and several other retailers are convening in an effort to improve the safety of factory workers in Bangladesh.

The discussions are part of an organized plan called the Safer Factories Initiative, which was created by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and former Senator Olympia Snowe are acting as co-chairs in the talks.

Under the Safer Factories Initiative, which was announced May 15, factory workers, factory buyers, retail buyers and the Bangladeshi government will develop an industry standard on fire and building safety.

Wal-Mart and some of the other retailers involved began discussing developing an initiative after the April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory. The accident killed more than 1,100 people and was the worst disaster in the country’s history. Fires in Bangladesh factories late last year and earlier this year also brought the issue of safety into the spotlight.

“At Wal-Mart, we’ve taken a number of actions that meet or exceed other factory safety proposals,” Kevin Gardner, a spokesman for the company, wrote in an email to Bloomberg on Wednesday. “Taking part in the development of this broader safety plan with other brands, retailers and the Bipartisan Policy Center, building upon our previously announced commitments, is part of that work.”

The groups met on May 29 in New York and have future talks scheduled in both Washington, D.C., and New York. They expect to release a plan by early July.

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

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

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


Cathleen Flahardy

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