It is just over a week since the deadly Bangladesh building collapse which killed hundreds of poorly paid garment workers.

One of the companies these workers supplied to include low-cost high street retailers such as Primark, which occupied a floor of the eight-storey building.

About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's garment industry, making it the world's second-largest apparel exporter, behind China. The industry employs mostly women, some of whom earn as little as 38 US dollars a month.

Cash-strapped Europe is still reeling from the effects of a global financial crisis which has seen governments pass tough austerity measures and unemployment rising.

But the factory collapse was the third deadly incident in six months to raise questions about worker safety and labour conditions in the poor South Asian country. Bangladesh relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports. Clothes made in five factories inside the Rana Plaza building were produced for retailers in Europe and Canada.

Another UK retailer, Matalan, said it would provide financial aid to those affected by the collapse, after Primark offered to pay compensation to the families of their workers.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (April 30) Matalan said it was not using any suppliers based in the building at the time of the collapse, but would "provide financial aid and other support" to help those affected.

Retail analyst Bryan Robert, director of research at Kantar Retail, said such compensation schemes were too little too late and failed to address the root of the problem, which is that consumers want cheap clothes, suppliers and retailers want high profits and governments regularly fail to protect workers.

"A lot of global retailers have now started offering some degree of reparation for the families of those affected, which is very good on them and might help turn around some of the negative PR. But it's not just the retailers who are involved in this value chain. It's also shoppers, it's also the suppliers themselves, it's also the government. So, fair play to the retailers for putting their hands in their pockets. But really this is a superficial and belated exercise that won't do anything to prevent further unfortunate incidents taking place," said Robert

On Tuesday, the EU said it would look at Bangladesh's preferential trade access to the EU market in order to encourage better safety standards and labour conditions. A possible first step would be an investigation.

Duty-free access offered by Western countries and low wages have helped turn Bangladesh's garment exports into a $19 billion a year industry, with 60 percent of clothes going to Europe.

"I think what we need to see really is more of a collective responsibility all the way from the shopper, who's demanding extremely low priced garments, to the retailers who perhaps might be putting pressure on their suppliers and the suppliers themselves who are perhaps looking for ways to cut corners and perhaps indulge in corruption so they can deliver the low prices. But also I think it is up to regional government such as the European Union, it's up to national and local government within these low wage economies to make sure the correct procedures are being adhered to," said Robert.

But any action by the EU on Bangladesh's duty-free and quota-free access would require the agreement of all member states and could take more than a year to implement.

The Swiss-based IndustriAll Global Union, which represents 50 million workers worldwide, on Tuesday set a May 15 deadline to finalise with Western retailers a commitment to a fire and building safety plan for Bangladesh.

Presented by Adam Justice