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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Union fears fainting workers will fall again

Union fears fainting workers will fall again

Many of the 50 workers who fainted as the temperature soared to almost 35 degrees Celsius in the crowded Nanguo Garment Co factory on Tuesday were back at work yesterday, despite only a minor – and enforced – change to the building’s ventilation system.

Ministry of Labour officials said yesterday they had ordered the factory’s bosses to remove the glass from windows as a temporary solution.

Meng Hong, a member of a workplace safety committee at the Ministry of Labour, said bosses at the factory, in the special economic zone in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district, had not improved the factory’s ventilation.

This was despite the government ordering it to do so after 200 workers fainted last month.

“We have ordered them to remove the glass from windows because the temperature inside ... is unusually high,” he said.

Yov Khemara, director of the provincial department of the Ministry of Labour, said factory bosses claimed to have been waiting for ventilation equipment “to be imported”.

The temperature in the factory had hit 34.6 degrees on Tuesday, he said.

Ministry officials confirmed 50 workers had fainted, 23 of whom were kept in hospital overnight on Tuesday. Four women and one man remained in hospital last night, while some were resting at home.

The Free Trade Union sent a letter to the ministry yesterday urging it to take more serious action. “We’re worried they will faint again because their health remains weak,” Ly Dee, an FTU investigator, said.

Worker Khen Rothani, 20, who spent Tuesday night on a breathing apparatus, said she had fainted at work twice in three months.

“It was hard to breathe. My hand and leg seemed to turn a bit cold,” she said.

Joel Preston, a consultant at Community Legal Education Center, said studies of businesses in the wider Preah Sihanouk area had revealed fainting was a daily occurrence. 

“At eight to 10 factories, we’re hearing reports of up to one to two workers fainting every day,” he said.

Nanguo officials could not be reached for comment.

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