Primark, M&S Agree to Set Bangladesh Safety Standards, ETI Says

U.K. retailers including Associated British Foods Plc’s Primark chain and Marks & Spencer Group Plc will take a “common approach” to fire and building safety in Bangladesh following a series of industrial accidents.

The Ethical Trading Initiative, whose members also include Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda chain, said today that its retailers who source from Bangladesh will improve factories to an agreed minimum standard. The mandates of health and safety committees in unsafe factories will be “strengthened,” ETI also said in a statement, without being more specific.

Rescue efforts at a factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh continued today where at least 433 people have died. The disaster was at least the third reported industrial accident in the South Asian nation since November, when 112 people died in a fire at a workshop that was producing clothes for companies including Wal-Mart.

“We are appalled by the recent factory fire tragedies, and last week’s deplorable Savar building collapse,” ETI Director Peter McAllister said in the statement. “Together with our company, trade union and NGO members, we are committed to driving real, sustainable change for workers by tackling the chronic, widespread health and safety issues that plague Bangladesh’s garment sector.”

An alliance between retailers, unions and international agencies is due to be announced on May 15.

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