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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Working conditions blamed as factory shut after fainting incident

Working conditions blamed as factory shut after fainting incident

The ministry of Labour has temporarily suspended until Monday the operations of a garment factory in the capital’s Dangkor district where nearly two dozen workers fainted on Wednesday.

An investigation into the causes of the fainting of 23 female workers at the Chim Ly garment factory on Wednesday revealed that poor working conditions were to blame.

“Ventilation fans are not enough and they are demanding workers overdo overtime work,” Pok Vanthat, the Ministry of Labour’s health department director, said, adding that additional workers would fall sick if the company did not comply with the ministry’s suspension orders.

The causes of Wednesday’s fainting, he said, were identical to those cited in a September mass fainting at the same factory, in which about 200 workers fell ill.

Pok Vanthat outlined three directives that the ministry had issued to the factory: fix fans and clean air filters, repair water tanks to ensure clean water and ban the stacking of fabrics near fans.

Ngam Kun, an administrator at the Chim Ly factory, did not say when the factory would fulfill these instructions, but said he would comply with a request from the union to allow workers that were not feeling well to stay home until Monday, without their pay being deducted.

Ly Chheng Long, president of the Cambodian Labour Union Federation at the factory, said workers feared that if they did not go to work, their pay would be deducted.

Maeve Galvin, an advocacy officer at the International Labour Organisation, said it was important to investigate the causes of these incidents, work towards solutions and keep in mind that the faintings had happened at only 12 or 13 of several hundred factories.

“It’s still a new industry for Cambodia and what we are seeing now is that the first generation of Cambodian supervisors is taking over and communication between workers and management is improving as a result,” Galvin said.

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