The two companies ignored an invitation to attend a Geneva, Switzerland meeting where retailers who worked with the factory, Tazreen Design Ltd., were supposed to discuss how to compensate victims and their families, reported Renee Dudley at Bloomberg.
Sears told Dudley that it declined an invitation to the meeting, while Wal-Mart declined to comment.
The companies didn't technically employ the workers and aren't legally required to help them, according to Bloomberg.
But factory advocates say that it's important for the retailers who work with these factories to step up and show they're committed to improving the situation.
“It’s so important for Western retailers to be at this meeting,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, told Bloomberg. “If they’re not there, they’re totally giving the message that they are supporting these death traps and they really don’t care how many lives go to make these clothes.”
Wal-Mart has donated $1.6 million to training and safety enforcement in Bangladesh.
More than 700 people have died in Bangladesh factories since 2005, and the majority of those who died worked in the garment industry, Dudley reported.
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