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Western Firms Feel Pressure as Toll Rises in Bangladesh

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04/26/2013 12:06 AM
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Western Firms Feel Pressure as Toll Rises in Bangladesh
Western Firms Feel Pressure as Toll Rises in Bangladesh
Munir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Volunteers and rescue workers at the collapsed building on Thursday. More Photos »
Published: April 25, 2013 13 Comments

DHAKA, Bangladesh — As rescuers struggled on Thursday to reach survivors in one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history, pointed questions were being raised about why a Bangladesh factory building was not padlocked after terrified workers notified the police, government officials and a powerful garment industry group about cracks in the walls.
Death Toll Rises After Building Collapse in Bangladesh

The Human Cost of Cheap Clothing

Where does the responsibility lie when it comes to improving safety standards in factories that produce affordable clothing, and what can be done about it?
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The collapse in Savar came five months after 112 garment workers died in a fire, raising questions on safe conditions. More Photos »
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As the death toll reached 256, the owner of the collapsed building, the eight-story Rana Plaza, was in hiding, and the police and industry leaders were blaming him for offering false assurances to factory bosses that the structure was sound, leading to the decision to allow 3,000 workers return to work.

Pressure continued to build on Western companies that had promised after a deadly fire in November to take steps to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi factories that make the goods the companies sell. Activists combing through the rubble here have already discovered labels and documents linking the factories to major European and American brands, like the Children’s Place, Benetton, Cato Fashions, Mango and others.

PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and Tchibo, a German retailer, have endorsed a plan in which Western retailers would finance fire safety efforts and structural upgrades in Bangladeshi factories — although they first want other companies to sign on.

[link to www.nytimes.com]