Bangladesh rescue efforts end as Dhaka announces wage hike plans



Bangladeshi volunteers and rescue workers are pictured at the scene after a factory building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on April 25, 2013.


Munir uz Zaman

Rescue workers in Bangladesh ended the search for more survivors in the rubble of a building that collapsed nearly three weeks ago on Monday.

By late Sunday, 1,125 bodies had been pulled from the ruins of the Rana Plaza building on the outskirts of Dhaka, which housed five garment factories.

The last survivor was pulled from the wreckage on Friday after spending more than two weeks trapped under debris.

The worst industrial accident in Bangladesh has thrown the spotlight on the hazardous working conditions in the country’s garment factories, which supply foreign retailers such as Wal-Mart, Gap, H&M and Inditex, best know for the Zara brand.

In response to domestic and international outcry over the deadly building collapse, the Bangladesh government announced plans on Sunday to raise the minimum wage for garment workers.

The Associated Press reported that a new minimum wage board would draw up a list of recommendations within the next three months. The proposals would be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration.

The country's Cabinet also approved changes to labor laws on Monday that would expand benefits for garment workers and ease their way toward forming trade unions. The changes still have to be approved by the country's Parliament.

"Worker safety and worker welfare have now been brought into the forefront," said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Gowher Rizvi, according to The New York Times

Foreign clothing retailers, meanwhile, are stepping up pressure on garment suppliers in Bangladesh to improve safety conditions.

H&M and Inditex agreed Monday to sign a “factory safety agreement” that would require foreign retailers to “help finance fire safety and building improvements” in factories they use in Bangladesh.

The legally binding plan would also require retailers to stop doing business with factories that did not comply with the safety requirements.

Calvin Klein-parent PVH and German retailer Tchibo have also signed the agreement.

More from GlobalPost: Bangladesh: Woman found alive 17 days after factory collapse, as death toll tops 1,000 (VIDEO)

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