Major Retailers Sign Worker Safety Agreement After Bangladesh Horror

Other Big Brands Mull Safety Accord

A number of major brands have been involved in negotiations on the accord, including Gap and Walmart. Both retailers launched their own initiatives after a fire at a Bangladesh garment factory killed 112 workers six months ago. But in the aftermath of the collapse, both have also been in discussions about the broader agreement even though neither were manufacturing items in the building.

"We've nothing to announce right now," said Kevin Gardner, a Walmart spokesman. "At Walmart, our goal is to positively impact global supply chain practices both by raising our own standards and by partnering with other stakeholders to improve the standards for workers across the industry. This is why Walmart has been advocating for improved worker safety with the Bangladeshi government, with industry groups and with suppliers."

Gap officials did not respond to a request for comment on the agreement.

Nova and other advocates for workers in Bangladesh have focused attention on Gap and Walmart in recent weeks, urging them to join the agreement. "Gap calls itself a leader on social responsibility," Nova said. "The opposite is the case. Gap and Walmart are laggards."

A spokesman for one of the best-known retailers whose garments were found in the rubble of the Rana Plaza building, Benetton, told ABC News over the weekend that the company is "in the process of finalizing our involvement in a multi-stakeholder initiative currently being formed and supported by the International Labor Organization that brings together producers, trade unions and NGOs."

Benetton had initially denied producing clothing in the building in an interview the day after the collapse. Last week, the company's CEO acknowledged that some Benetton clothing had been made there prior to the collapse and a company spokesman sent ABC News a statement saying "that one of our suppliers had subcontracted orders to one of these Dhaka-based manufacturers."

"Prior to the accident, that manufacturer had already been permanently removed from the list of potential direct or indirect suppliers," the Benetton statement said. "In fact, it had come to light that it no longer met the stringent standards that would have made it eligible to even potentially work for us."

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