Safety experts have commenced a program of inspections of 1,500 garment factories in the impoverished nation of Bangladesh.
As AFP reports, the inspections follow a series of deadly incidents last year, including several factory fires and the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza complex near Dhaka in April which killed 1,135 workers.
As the Global Times reports, the inspections were initiated by Western retailers which source clothes from the large Bangladeshi garment industry. Clothing brands involved include Primark, Loblaw, Joe Fresh, Gap, Wal-Mart, Nike, Tchibo, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M and Benetton.
It is expected that the program will continue until September. Fire officers and structural engineers will carry out the inspections and then recommend safety improvements.
Apart from the clothing corporations, the Accord has been signed by two global trade unions, IndustriALL and UNI; and several Bangladeshi unions.
Retailers have committed to carry out any necessary repairs that come to light after the inspections and also ensure that funds are provided to carry out those repairs. In addition, workers will continue to be paid their salaries while repairs are being carried out.
Late last year, following the Rana Plaza complex disaster and subsequent international attention, Bangladeshi garment workers were granted a 77 per cent pay rise by a government-appointed wage board.
This rise took the monthly entry-level wage for a garment factory worker from 3,000 to 5,300 taka a month (roughly $74).