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Committee on factory faintings convenes for first time

Minister of Labour Ith Samheng speaks at a meeting of the newly established committee on mass fainting earlier today.
Minister of Labour Ith Samheng speaks at a meeting with a newly established committee on mass faintings earlier today. Hong Menea

Committee on factory faintings convenes for first time

A new committee to prevent mass faintings met today for the first time, just a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed concern about an increase in the number of such incidents in the garment industry.

The committee today released its three-year statistics on mass faintings, which show that after a drop in 2016 the number of workplace faintings shot back up last year, to 1,603 in 22 factories. From the start of this year until February 11, 342 workers have fainted in two factories.

Speaking to the press after today’s meeting, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng said the committee “follows the recommendation of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen” and had assigned all relevant ministries to work together to prevent mass fainting.

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He explained that the committee consisted of 40 members, with himself as president, and deputy presidents from both the private sector and unions. Among the rest of the committee are officials from other ministries, including health, land management and agriculture.

“This committee is responsible for seeking a strategy to prevent mass fainting and decrease it,” he said.

According to Sam Heng, researchers have found that mass faintings are related to a handful of factors, including chemical, physical – such as sound, temperature and air quality – psychological, mechanical and biological.

He said the Labour Ministry and Health Ministry would issue a joint prakas to set out a strategy, provide training and conduct more research, and to increase the number of labour inspections at the workplace.

Bent Gehrt, Southeast Asia Field Director of Workers Right Consortium, welcomed the creation of the committee to address the root causes of fainting.

“Hopefully the committee will work out some real solutions to these fainting incidences,” he said.

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