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200 faint in five unique incidents

200 faint in five unique incidents

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Garment workers receive treatment in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

About 200 garment workers fainted in five separate garment factories in Vattanac Industrial Park 2 yesterday, workers and a union representative told the Post.

Nou Srey Pich, 28, an employee of Papillion Textile (Cambodia), in the capital’s Dangkor district, was recovering in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital after fumes from outside swept into her factory at about 1pm.

Workers collapsed to the floor or rushed for the exit; however, bosses at first prevented them from leaving, Srey Pich said.

“I smelled it, found myself short of breath and vomited,” she said. “Then I fainted.”

Lay Chenthea, 31, from nearby Newpex Company, said the fumes had seeped in through the ventilation system, causing workers to pass out.

“I rushed to get those fainting out of the factory. Many people were vomiting,” she said.

The exact cause of the fainting was unclear, she said, although she had seen heavy machinery operating on a construction site near the garment factories.

Khim Chamnan, an official from the Free Trade Union, said workers had also fainted at Moha Garment Company I, II and III factories.

“There is no apparent cause yet, but there is a smell coming from outside and we will investigate what that is,” he said.

A doctor at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital said he had placed five workers on breathing apparatuses.

“They have fainted because of the smell and also after seeing others faint around them,” he said. “But this is a situation that has not seriously affected their health.”    

The five factories could not be reached for comment, while Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said he did know the details of the incident.

“I would say it would be external factors rather than internal factors,” he said, adding that he expected to be in contact with the factories today to find out what had happened.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said he had heard a report of workers fainting yesterday and was looking into the matter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Sarom at [email protected]
With assistance from Shane Worrell

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