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Time-out for fainting factory

Time-out for fainting factory


A day after about 60 female workers were rushed to hospital after paint fumes from a floor caused them to faint, King First Industrial Co Ltd garment factory in Phnom Penh temporarily closed its doors.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Garment workers from the King First Industrial Co factory recover on Tuesday at Calmette Hospital after a mass fainting episode. About 60 women fainted at the factory after inhaling paint fumes.

Following recommendations from the Ministy of Labour, management yesterday suspended operations at the factory for an indefinite period to undergo cleaning, a spokeswoman said.

However, some workers had not been told and arrived at work yesterday morning thinking management at the factory, in Phnom Penh’s Russei district, had disregarded the ministry’s recommendation to clean up.

Rong Srey Lot, a worker in the factory’s sewing department, said other departments had operated as normal, even though workers had not wanted to return because they feared they would faint.

“My department was allowed to stop, but the QC [quality control], packaging and ironing departments ran as normal,” she said.

The women who fainted on Tuesday were sent to Calmette Hospital and have since been released.

Ouk Khen, officer of the Free Trade Union of Cambodia, said that only those in the sewing department had been told to stop work.

Federation Union of Development Workers president Cheng Nen, who represents workers in the factory, told the Post that some of the factory’s 480 workers had come to work yesterday, but he had urged them not to enter the building.

“I negotiated with the factory employer that they must not be allowed to work because the factory building is not free of poison because the environment is unclean. The boss agreed,” he said.  

Under the agreement, unless the ministry can prove that the paint fumes have gone, the employees will not be allowed to work – and the company will not be allowed to deduct their salary, he said.

Tes Sithan, an administration employee at King First Industrial, said the factory had followed the recommendations of labour officials and authorities to allow the workers to stop working while the factory was cleaned.

Ministry of Labour deputy director Pok Vanthat said he had requested that the company allow the workers to take a break while it ensured the building was properly ventilated.

“We will follow up with the factory every day,” he said.