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Wal-Mart will not sign Bangladesh accord

A view shows the Walmart logo at an opened Walmart store on Thanksgiving day in North Bergan, New Jersey November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Tha
A view shows the Walmart logo at an opened Walmart store on Thanksgiving day in North Bergan, New Jersey November 22, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Tha

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart said on Tuesday it does not plan to sign a Bangladesh fire and building safety accord drawn up by labor groups because it believes its current safety plans will get faster results.

The legally-binding agreement, drafted by labor and non-governmental organizations Europe's IndustriALL and UNI Global Union, has a May 15 deadline for retailers to sign on.

Many North American retailers are discussing whether to forge their own Bangladesh safety agreement as an alternative.

"The company, like a number of other retailers, is not in a position to sign the IndustriALL accord at this time," Wal-Mart said in a statement.

"While we agree with much of the proposal, the IndustriALL plan also introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals," Wal-Mart said.

Earlier on Tuesday Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said it would conduct in-depth safety inspections at all 279 Bangladesh factories with which it works and publicly release the names and inspection information, as pressure mounts on retailers to ensure worker safety after April's deadly building collapse.

Wal-Mart said it would also have Bureau Veritas provide fire safety training for every worker in every factory in Bangladesh that produces its goods. Bureau Veritas is a European testing and inspection company that, on behalf of Wal-Mart, assesses factories and trains workers in Bangladesh.

Wal-Mart began more rigorous inspections earlier this year after more than 110 people were killed in a November 2012 fire in a factory that was producing goods for Wal-Mart and other retailers.

Wal-Mart said the inspections would be completed in the next six months and that it would begin posting inspection results on June 1.

"Transparency is vital to make progress in improving factory conditions, and by disclosing this information, government, workers, non-governmental agencies, and companies can benefit from this work," Rajan Kamalanathan, Wal-Mart's vice president of ethical sourcing, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago and Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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