Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Puma’s new dizzy spell

Puma’s new dizzy spell

Puma’s new dizzy spell

110726_2
An employee of Hung Wah (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing recovers at a hospital after a mass fainting episode yesterday.

Sportwear giant Puma says  it is taking a second outbreak of fainting at one of its Cambodian shoe suppliers “very seriously” after 49 workers at the Huey Chuen factory were hospitalised in Phnom Penh yesterday morning.

The clothing and shoe brand said it was taking immediate ‘‘interim measures’’ to address the incident, which occurred a few days after a report released last week by the Fair Labour Association found multiple breaches of  labour laws had contributed to about 104 workers fainting at the same factory in April. The company did not detail the measures to be put in place.

The FLA report found that a possible exposure to hazardous chemicals – including  toluene, a substance banned by Puma –  along with excessive working hours and high temperatures in the factory, had caused mass fainting on April 9 and 10.

“Puma takes this fainting incident,  the second within four months at the same factory premises, very seriously and has implemented a short-medium and long-term improvement plan while also taking interim measures immediately,” yesterday’s statement read.

It said an investigation had been launched but workers had been given sufficient rest and no “volatile chemicals” were being used at the time. Improvements had been made at the factory in the past two months, it added.

Puma also acknowledged that the situation for workers in Cambodian factories in general was problematic, and the statement vowed to open talks with industry peers to “tackle the issues on an industry-wide level”.

Workers recovering at clinics throughout the capital were uncertain why they had fainted.

Pov Phalla, a worker from the Huey Chuen factory, said yesterday: “I got a headache and felt very dizzy.”

But Dangkor district police chief Born Sam Ath said yesterday he believed the workers had fainted because of expos-ure to poisonous chemicals.

A representative from Huey Chuen declined to give his name yesterday or answer questions. Mouen Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, shared his view. “It sounds like they [Huey Chuen] have not improved much. We suspect that the fainting was caused by chemical substances, not enough ventilation and also the storage of the chemical substances,” he said.

Mouen Tola also questioned why an investigation into April’s fainting by the Ministry of Labour had found nothing wrong with the Huey Chuen factory, contradicting the findings of the Fair Labour Association. Huey Chuen is not the only factory to have seen fainting incidents in the last week. About 300 workers also fainted over the past two days at the Hung Wah (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing factory in Dangkor district, Born Sam Ath said yesterday.

Hung Wah factory administration chief Leav Chhay Meng told The Post tiredness and shock could be to blame.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said yesterday he would leave it to relevant authorities to investigate the cause of the fainting at Hung Wah factory.

“The workers say its chemicals from the factory or insecticides, I think that’s a little far fetched,” he said, adding that harmful chemicals were not used in the manufacturing of garments, and if they were consumers would be equally affected. The Huey Chuen factory, he added, would very soon be absorbed under the umbrella of GMAC.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said yesterday he had sent a letter to relevant ministries complaining of fainting related to poor hygiene standards and corruption amongst investigators. Officials from the Minsitry of Labour and Vocational Training could not be reached for comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING MEAS SOKCHEA AND DON WEINLAND

MOST VIEWED

  • Government denies claims former Thai PM Yingluck issued Cambodian passport

    Government officials on Thursday denied claims that a Cambodian passport was issued to former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who reportedly used it to register a company in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong-based English language South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Wednesday reported Hong Kong

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading