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Firm cautious after faintings

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Workers deemed at risk of fainting were sent home yesterday morning after arriving at the gates of Sabrina (Cambodia) Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, following two mass fainting incidents at the facility last week, union officials said.

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Ouk Lina, an administrative officer at the Free Trade Union who visited the factory yesterday, said more than 100 staff were sent home because they looked exhausted and the company, which supplies Nike, was determined to avoid a third mass fainting incident.

He described Sabrina as a “five-star factory”, saying it was among the best in the Kingdom. He said, however, that the garment industry drained its workers of energy and drove them into poor health.

Declining health was noticeable “after about six months of working in a factory”, Ouk Lina said. “The problem is that because of the long hours they work, their health declines.”

He also dismissed as “unbelievable” a company official’s statement that the women were in poor health because they spent their nights drinking and dancing. Chae Yi, an administrative manager at Sabrina, said “the fainting [was] the result of exhaustion from long nights of dancing”.

Ouk Lina said the fainting began last Wednesday when workers were overcome by fumes from glue used for tiling a floor. More than 300 workers fainted in two separate incidents.

Meanwhile, fainting continued yesterday at Mirae Apparel factory in the capital’s Meanchey district, where 28 staff fainted on Friday. Thou Channa, director of Khmer Youth Union, said four workers fainted there yesterday.

Mirae, unlike Sabrina, does not have a licence to export clothing. All exporting garment factories in Cambodia are monitored by the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia programme for compliance with Cambodian law and international labour standards.

Factory faintings, however, have raised questions about working conditions. Opposition MP Mu Sochua on Sunday called for a boycott of global brands, including Nike, which failed to investigate fainting incidents at their suppliers here.

Nike has not responded to requests for comment.

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