The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association announced Friday that all garment factories would be shut over the weekend "for treatment of victims of the Savar building collapse and completion of the rescue operation successfully."
The association said it would pay the salaries and dues of workers of the stricken building by the first week of May.
Authorities have said they did not know what caused the collapse or how many people remained inside the debris. But a police official said relatives had reported 595 people still missing.
Demands for punishment
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday ordered police to arrest the owners of the building and the factories so that they can "face legal actions," her spokesman said.
"It is not an accident, it is a killing incident," Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told reporters. "All, including owners and administrative officials concerned, must be put on the dock for the killing of people."
The nation's high court ordered Thursday that the owners, who are believed to be in hiding, appear in court Tuesday, CNN affiliate Boishakhi Television reported.
During protests Thursday, demonstrators carried black flags. Some set fires, and others used clubs to break the windshields of passing trucks.
Hundreds of workers lay siege to the head office of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at Karwan Bazar in Dhaka.
They demanded the arrest of the factory owners and called for the death penalty for Sohel Rana, the owner of the building.
The vice president of the garment association, Shahidullah Azim, said the organization had suspended the factories' memberships.
The demonstrations in Dhaka continued Friday.
Questions for Western companies
The catastrophe is the latest to strike Bangladesh's garment industry, which employs more than 4 million people -- most of them women -- and regularly comes under scrutiny for its slipshod safety standards.
It also raises questions for the Western brands that contract with factories here to make their products. According to BSS, the United States receives 23% of the products -- more than any other individual nation.
Some of the blame must be shouldered by Western brands, said Matab Choudhury, director general of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with CNN's Max Foster.
"They go to Bangladesh, they ask for the buying agent and they say, 'OK, we want 2 million of this garment. How cheap can you go?' " he said.
He accused some agents from Western companies of seeking out factories that are not in compliance with safety laws.
The U.S. State Department said Thursday it wasn't able to provide details about whether American companies were connected to operations in the collapsed building.
But the disaster underscores "the urgent need for the government, owners, buyers, and labor to find ways of improving working conditions in Bangladesh," said Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman.
Bangladesh Housing and Public Works Secretary Khandaker Showkat Hossain told BSS that the government was planning to form a separate authority to monitor compliance with the country's building code, which critics say is often flouted.
"We are seeking technical support from Japan's government in this regard, as the Japanese are very sound in taking earthquake preparedness," he said.
The last major building collapse in Bangladesh occurred in 2005, in the same area as Wednesday's, and killed more than 70 people, the national news agency said.
A fire at the Tazreen Fashions Factory in another suburb of Dhaka in November killed at least 112 people. Tazreen had made goods for Walmart and Sears, though both companies said they were unaware that the factory had made goods for them.