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Government expects UK retailers to increase standards in Bangladesh

The government said retailers should take responsibility for their whole supply chain. Photo: ITV News

The government has told ITV News tonight that they will expect UK retailers to make more effort to drive up standards in Bangladesh, and should take responsibility for their whole supply chain "from the store right back to the sewing machine".

Department for International Development minister Alan Duncan has been visiting victims of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka today and is promising an extra £18 million to improve the skills of people working in Bangladesh's massive garment trade.

Alan Duncan has been visiting victims of the Rana Plaza disaster. Credit: Johnny Green/PA Wire

It follows a letter from his boss, Justine Greening to 20 major retailers, summoning them to a meeting in Westminster in the next couple of weeks.

It is now more than a month on from the disaster at Rana Plaza where over 1100 people lost their lives, but the UK government among others appears reluctant to let the pressure on retailers drop.

Over 1100 people lost their lives in the Rana Plaza disaster. Credit: Reuters

The question of course is whether consumers choose to change their behaviour and avoid retailers who don't make the effort.

Alan Duncan said:

I have been incredibly moved by the courage of the people I have met today, many of whom lay trapped for days and sustained appalling injuries.

The Rana Plaza factory collapse was devastating in its scale and, along with factory fires, must be taken as a wake-up call to all of us.

Safety and standards must be made to catch up with the rapid growth in the garment sector, which is a massive success story and must not be allowed to go sour.

The industry has been built from nothing in the past 30 years and now needs to be turned into a long-term development success, which means that urgent action is needed across the sector.

Our own high street brands must assume responsibility for their products, from the store right back to the sewing machine, and the UK is ready to help make this happen.

– Alan Duncan, Department for International Development minister