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Workers hospitalised in truck accident, faintings

People assist an employee of Leda garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district after 10 people fainted yesterday morning. Photo supplied
People assist an employee of Leda garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district after 10 people fainted yesterday morning. Photo supplied

Workers hospitalised in truck accident, faintings

Nineteen garment factory workers were injured yesterday in Kampong Speu province when a truck overturned on National Road 44.

The truck was speeding through the province’s Samrong Tong district when one of the tyres exploded, causing the truck to overturn and roll to a halt, said provincial Labour Department head Choek Borith.

Of the 28 workers travelling on the truck, 19 were injured.

“No one died in the accident,” Borith said. “The National Security Fund is responsible for them, so the workers do not have to worry about their treatment at hospital.”

The department has attempted to alert drivers to conduct safety checks on their trucks, he said, but communicating that to all drivers was difficult.

“They run these businesses by themselves, so it is very hard to control and maintain safety with them,” he said.

Kampong Speu has seen two major garment worker-related accidents this year, one in January where 70 people were injured, and another deadly crash in April, which resulted in five deaths and 68 injured.

Chan Srey, a worker in the truck who was uninjured, said she heard a loud explosion and then screams all around her.

“We were so panicked, but luckily there were no other cars on the road,” Srey said.

While the issue of transporting garment workers safely was beginning to be addressed, finding a solution that didn’t have a collateral impact was difficult, said William Conklin, country director of workers advocacy NGO Solidarity Center.

“When you start to pull this unsafe transportation off the roads, workers then cannot get to work,” he said. “And there is a vacuum for transportation service, which these owner-operated trucks are filling.”

He added that a mix of short- and long-term solutions were needed to address the issue on the whole, but with yesterday’s accident a simple safety check could have helped.

In a separate case, 10 workers fainted at Leda garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district. Sak Srey Nak, a union official at the Federation Union for Cambodian Workers, said she was unaware of the reasons for the incident, though one of the women who fainted told her that she fainted upon seeing a friend faint.

“Eight workers were sent to hospital and two went home to rest after they fainted in the factory this morning,” she added.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga

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