Bangladesh, collapse

Disney Ditches Bangladesh as Factory Death Toll Passes 500

Anti-sweatshop activists call decision 'shameful.'

Bangladesh, collapse
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In the wake of the April 24 factory collapse that killed more than 500 workers near Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Walt Disney Company has decided to stop production of its products in the impoverished South Asian country.

The company's decision was condemned by some anti-sweatshop activists.

Liana Foxvog and Judy Gearhart of the International Labor Rights Forum wrote in The New York Times Thursday that the decision "validates and justifies many factory owners' practice of hiding their real problems from the global brands."

Disney's pull-out "is shameful and should not be emulated," wrote the activists, who recommended "contractual commitment[s]" to the safety of workers.

[PHOTOS: Hellish Scenes From Site of Bangladesh Factory Collapse]

The activists criticized Disney for not compensating victims of the November Tazreen factory fire that killed more than 100 workers near Dhaka. A statement from the company said Disney sweatshirts found in that factory were stored there without the company's knowledge.

Disney did not produce items in the eight-story factory that collapsed. The death toll rose to 517 Friday, an army officer coordinating rescue operations told AFP, and more bodies remain buried under rubble.

Bangladesh is second only to China among apparel exporters, with 3.6 million Bangladeshis working in the industry, according to Reuters. Nine people, including an engineer who warned the building was unsafe, have been arrested in Bangladesh.

[READ: Big Brands Rejected Bangladesh Factory Safety Plan]

Pope Francis condemned conditions at the plant as "slave labor" during a Wednesday mass at the Vatican.

Disney made its announcement ahead of an already-planned end of production within the year in Bangladesh and four other countries - Belarus, Ecuador, Pakistan and Venezuela - CNN Money reports. The five countries were deemed "highest-risk" by World Bank governance ratings.

Less than 1 percent of Disney's source factories are in Bangladesh, company spokeswoman Tasia Filippatos told CNN Money. The company said it would consider resuming work in Bangladesh if it signs onto the International Labor Organization's Better Work program.

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