Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered the Ministry of Labour to investigate why more than 1,600 reported faintings have occurred in the Kingdom’s garment factories this year and to do whatever it takes to fix the problem.
“We see the workers fainting at this factory or that factory, so it’s important that labour officials be active in addressing this problem with the owners of the factories,” Hun Sen said at the opening of a new Ministry of Labour building.
According to the latest ministry figures, 1,654 workers have fainted in factories here during 2012.
Labour groups say many more go unreported.
The prime minister said an expectation to put in overtime or work without breaks was contributing to exhaustion and causing them to miss meals.
“Our people are not machines that can work without stopping,” Hun Sen said, adding that bosses also need to fix ventilation problems and provide better accommodation for workers.
Pok Vanthat, director of the Ministry of Labour’s labour health department, said the ministry was already working to prevent faintings.
“This weekend, we will go down to Preah Sihanouk province to educate workers,” he said, adding that officials made weekly visits to factories to speak about the issue.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said the ministry was working with stakeholders to reduce faintings, but much of the responsibility lay with workers themselves.
“If workers choose to eat poorly and not rest, there isn’t much that can be done to prevent it,” he said.
Loo said the comments about workers being treated like machines applied only to a few rogue factories.
“This does not happen often, and it is not widespread,” he said.
Free Trade Union official Oum Lina welcomed the prime minister’s words.
“This is positive action for the garment industry,” she said, adding that faintings caused foreign investors and buyers to lose confidence in Cambodia.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at firstname.lastname@example.org
With assistance from Shane Worrell