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Workers return in wake of factory floor collapse

Workers return in wake of factory floor collapse

Employees working at a Takeo province garment factory where part of the floor gave way beneath them last month were back on the job yesterday, though in different buildings at the large Bati district complex.

Oeur Pich, whose left leg was injured at the scene, was among those returning to new work stations yesterday.

“I am still scared when I see the building where I used to work,” Pich told the Post after her first shift back. “Luckily, we are not allowed to work in that building.”

About 800 workers fled Building B of Nishiku’s complex at about 9:30am on October 21 when part of the ground floor near the entrance caved in, leaving the front quarter of the factory floor tilting toward the hole that materialised.

Several people working at the time were pinned under their sewing machines, leaving at least four, all women, with minor injuries.

On the day of the collapse, Nishiku director of human resources Chan Monika – who could not be reached yesterday – said the portion that collapsed stood over a 40-by-20-metre reservoir and had not been reinforced.

A preliminary police investigation that day concluded that lack of reinforcement likely led to the floor giving way.

Jill Tucker, technical adviser for the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), yesterday said photographs from the scene seemed consistent with this assessment.

Specialists should look at the other buildings at Nishiku to gauge safety, she added.

“It would be good for them to bring a structural engineer to assess the other buildings in the complex,” Tucker said. “There’s no building code [in Cambodia], right now, it’s being written.”

So far, no Nishiku employees working in the building during the collapse have filed lawsuits, nor has the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) – which represents many of their employees, C.CAWDU legal officer Seang Yoth said yesterday.

But C.CAWDU and labour rights group Solidarity Center are monitoring the case to see whether workers should file suit, Yoth said.

“C.CAWDU and [Solidarity Center] are monitoring to ensure the National Social Security Fund properly pays compensation and medical bills for those injured,” Yoth explained.

An NSSF staffer was reached yesterday afternoon, but told a Post reporter that his boss could not be contacted.

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