H&M said the deal must also be in line with an action plan agreed by the Bangladesh government, industry associations and unions to reach all 5,000 factories. She declined to give details of the financial commitments. Millions of workers are caught in the middle, many of whom fear for their safety. While the accident that killed Ms. Khatun was much smaller, the country feared new fears about diminishing worker safety after years of remarkable progress. Nirapon has enabled inspections at up to 600 garment factories, trained workers in safety and formed a workers` helpline. But he was suspended for six months by Bangladesh`s Supreme Court in October, after an influential factory owner asked to place him among the new security watchdog group. The Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing Irappon`s appeal. Shortly after the disaster, Western brands reached two pioneering security agreements. An old bazaar crumbling in central Dhaka, far from some of the newer factories on the outskirts of the city, has been turned into a factory of shacks for businesses in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Other major brands involved in the fire and building safety discussions are Wal-Mart and Gap Inc,” which announced last year that they would launch their own safety program. The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the deal between 23 majority U.S. retailers, has already dissolved and transferred operations to an independent successor in Bangladesh, called Nirapon (a merger of words meaning “safe space”). The agreement requires signatory brands to disclose who their supplier factories are. The agreement also requires independent inspections of buildings in the areas of fire, electrical and structural safety, training on workers` rights and a long-awaited revision of safety standards. Swedish fashion merchant H&M, which is a main buyer of Bangladeshi clothing but has not used any of the suppliers active in the collapsed factory, said the five-year deal would complement its already strict requirements for suppliers. The huge number — which one union called a “massive industrial murder” — has forced retailers like Target, Walmart and H&M to deal with the safety and labor abuses plaguing their fashion chains. Fearing customer boycotts, Western brands have collaborated with unions, factory owners, non-governmental organizations and the Bangladeshi government to improve safety, with remarkable results. Even if Bangladesh`s security progress is maintained under the new system, significant challenges remain on other fronts, such as low wages and abuses.
Later that month, a fire at the Tazreen garment factory killed 112 people, with the factory`s owners accused of murder.  Following this devastating event, a new proposal was developed calling for: “Better regulation and stronger implementation, investing in safer facilities and infrastructure, closing safe premises, involving workers and their representatives in the promotion of safe working practices, with management and reporting of problems to the competent authorities, Effective training and emergency preparedness of all staff, assess buyers` responsibilities and improve necessary practices. When she went to work as a textile worker, Rima Khatun walked past natural sweater Village, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, when a gas boiler exploded in it. . . .