Senators seek Bangladesh action on labor rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — An influential Democratic senator is calling for the Obama administration to consider suspending Bangladesh’s duty-free privileges unless it takes significant action to improve labor conditions following the global garment industry’s worst accident.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez was addressing a hearing Thursday on labor rights in the South Asian nation, six weeks after the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka that killed 1,127 people.

The U.S. government will decide by the end of June whether to withdraw or limit trade privileges. It covers just a fraction of Bangladesh’s U.S. exports but Menendez said suspension would send a strong signal.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said the U.S. hopes Bangladesh’s parliament will quickly amend its labor law to address worker safety and freedom of assembly.

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