* No more bodies expected to be found in collapsed plant's
* World's worst industrial accident since 1984 Bhopal
* 300 garment factories closed due to worker unrest
(Adds factory closures, paragraphs 10-11)
By Ruma Paul
DHAKA, May 13 Bangladeshi salvage workers on
Monday neared the end of their search for victims of the
collapse of a factory building, scouring the basement of the
complex that crumbled in on itself and killed 1,127 people.
A series of deadly incidents at factories, including a fire
in November that killed 112 people, has focused global attention
on safety standards in Bangladesh's booming garment industry.
The toll of 1,127 - the world's most deadly industrial
accident since 1984 Bhopal disaster in India - could be the
final one as no more bodies were found on Monday, a spokesman at
the army control room coordinating the salvage operation said.
"The rescuers have reached the basement where the chances of
finding more dead bodies are very low," said Captain Tazul
The site would be handed over to the district administration
on Tuesday on completion of salvage work, according to army
spokesman Shahinul Islam.
The cabinet approved an amendment to Bangladesh's labour
laws on Monday, paving the way for parliament to allow garment
workers to form trade unions without prior approval from the
International labour and human rights groups had long
campaigned for workers to be able to form establish unions
without such approval.
The amendment was endorsed a day after the government
decided to form a wage board to consider pay increases for
readymade garment workers.
Average monthly minimum wages now stand at the equivalent of
$38 after an increase of about 80 percent in 2010 in response to
months of violent street protests.
Worker unrest prompted authorities to shut down more than
300 garment factories for indefinite periods in the Ashulia
industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, that
accounts for nearly 20 percent of total exports.
"Owners decided to close their factories on safety grounds
after workers went on a rampage almost every day after the
collapse of Rana Plaza," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president
of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Eight people were killed in a fire at a factory last week
That an industry association said may have been arson.
About 2,500 people were rescued from the Rana Plaza, in
Savar, a commercial suburb of Dhaka, after the April 24
collapse. Many survivors suffered serious injuries.
The disaster, believed to have been triggered when
generators were started up during a blackout, has raised
questions about the use by Western retailers of the
impoverished South Asian nation as a source of cheap goods.
Nine people have been arrested in connection with the
disaster, including the building's owner and bosses of the
factories it housed.
The government has accused the owners and builders of the
eight-storey complex of using shoddy building materials,
including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and of not
obtaining the necessary clearances.
Bangladesh's garment industry accounts for 80 percent of its
exports. Low wages have helped lift Bangladesh to number two in
the global ranking of exporters, behind China.
Bangladesh ranked last in minimum wages for factory workers
in 2010, according to World Bank data, behind Cambodia.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)