Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protesters stage EU faint-ins

Protesters stage EU faint-ins

Protesters stage EU faint-ins

120924_03a

Activists pretend to faint at H&M clothing stores in Britain over the weekend. The protest was staged to show solidarity with Cambodian garment workers. Photograph supplied

In a year in which more than a thousand Cambodian garment factory workers have fainted on the job, activists across Europe are demonstrating for higher wages and better working conditions in the Kingdom’s factories.  

Throughout the past week, demonstrators mimicked faintings by collapsing on the floors of H&M, Gap, Levi’s and Zara outlets in European cities including London, Paris, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Amsterdam and Brussels after distributing pamphlets about Cambodian factory conditions.

The demonstrations are part of a campaign in 11 countries “to call on popular brands to pay a living wage to workers” in Cambodia, activist group Clean Clothes Campaign said in a press release.

Jill Tucker, chief technical advisor of ILO-Better Factories Cambodia, and Dave Welsh, country director of the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, said they approved of the intention to raise awareness, but noted that with significant international recognition of mass faintings since last summer, the key now is to search for active and nuanced policy answers.  

“It doesn’t really lend itself to easy solutions,” Tucker said.

According to H&M media representative Anna Eriksson, the company has sent its head of sustainability to look into improving working conditions.

Eriksson added that H&M does not itself own any factories and cannot directly raise wages but is co-operating with Better Factories to prompt the government to increase minimum wage requirements. 

Despite such moves by H&M and other companies, faintings show little sign of abating, with another 77 female workers collapsing on Friday at Yorks Cambodia, a Svay Rieng-based branch of Japanese international glove supplier Yorks Co Ltd.

While many of the factory’s workers said they fainted due to the smell of toxic chemicals, Ministry of Labour officials found no evidence of them, the ministry’s health department director, Pok Vanthat, said.

“On the basis of our observations, the factory’s working conditions and atmosphere are good,” he said.

But Chan Sreyprum, 19, a worker receiving treatment at a private clinic in Bavet town, said: “I felt dizzy because of the unbearable poisonous smell and fainted.”

Affected workers will be allowed to be off work until Tuesday without salary deductions while the others continue work as usual, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at [email protected]
Chhay Channyda at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement