Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Global brands join fainting ‘phenomenon’ inquiry

Global brands join fainting ‘phenomenon’ inquiry

Global brands join fainting ‘phenomenon’ inquiry

At  least 24 international apparel brands have pledged to immediately investigate the mass fainting “phenomenon” that has hit the Cambodian garment factories that supply them, the International Labour Organisation says.

Executives of global brands had pledged to work together “to determine the precise causes of  incidences of fainting among workers”, the ILO said after a buyers’ forum  in Phnom Penh this week.

The executives had “expressed the need for immediate action on behalf of the welfare of the workers”, the organisation said.

The mass faintings have drawn fresh attention to conditions in factories where brand-name clothing is produced for Western consumers.

Women had collapsed on several factory floors during the weeks leading up to the buyers’ forum, organised by the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia program.

The program, which monitors all exporting garment factories, reported early last month that the factories complied for the most part with Cambodian labour laws and international standards.

Soon after the report was released, however, a wave of fainting incidents led to the hospitalisation of hundreds of workers from several factories that supply global brands and retail chains, including Walmart Canada.

The ILO said there had been 10 reported mass fainting events at garment factories this year.

It has identified numerous possible causes, including heath stress, chemical exposure, excessive overtime, inadequate nutrition, lack of occupational safety and health management systems, and unsafe hygiene and sanitation facilities, according to Better Factories Cambodia.

Tuomo Poutiainen, chief technical adviser at Better Factories Cambodia, said:   “More research is urgently needed to identify possible new causes that will explain the fainting phenomenon, as well as eliminate [causes] we know about.

“We will continue to monitor individual factories and to investigate every reported instance of fainting.”

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Cambodian Workers, said he supported investigations of mass fainting but recommended a pre-emptive approach be adopted.

“I want the ILO and relevant agencies to find ways to prevent mass fainting from happening. It is better than investigating after it happens,” he said.         

Unionists have pointed to the low pay workers receive – about 30 US cents an  hour – as a major cause of the fainting.

Staff are working longer hours and skipping meals to make ends meet, they have said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all