The Associated Press reports that 17 major U.S. retailers including Target have agreed to a safety pact to improve working conditions in 500 Bangladesh factories used by American companies. The $142 million pledged to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety will go toward factory repairs, compensation, training, education, and compliance.
The pressure has been building for U.S. companies to improve safety following a building collapse in April that killed 1129. Months earlier, a fire in another garment factory killed 112.
The Star Tribune reports that, within the next year, the Alliance will set up inspections to make sure that factories follow safety standards. An independent board of directors will oversee the process.
The newspaper reported that in recent years, Target said it reduced the number of factories it uses in Bangladesh by half.
The New York Times reports this plan differs from a European plan announced earlier this week. The European plan would have all Bangladesh factories that members use inspected within nine months and would have remediation plans for problems. Supporters of the European plan pre-emptively criticized the American plan, saying it would achieve less because the companies made a less comprehensive commitment to safety upgrades. U.S. companies including Abercrombie & Fitch and PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, joined the European plan.