100 Workers in Phnom Penh Garment Factory Faint, Union Says

Officials say the number of victims is lower

About 100 workers from the Serratex garment factory in Dangkao district fainted on Friday and Saturday after inhaling fumes from a leaking pipe, a trade union official said yesterday, thought government officials played down the event offering smaller estimates of those who had been affected.

“I just conducted an interview with a worker and he told me that nearly 100 workers fainted,” said Mann Senghak, secretary general of the Free Trade Union, adding that the police had not properly investigated the case by sending a report to the municipal health department.

Mr Senghak said that one more garment worker had fainted yesterday after inhaling chemicals used to treat the clothes and had later retrieved treatment at a nearby clinic before being sent home.

Sok Sokhun, director of the municipal health department said yesterday he had received no police report about the incident.

Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said that many workers in garment factories are forced to work unpaid hours and often suffer from extreme fatigue.             Manufacturers here often cite low productivity among Cambodian workers as a major burden to the competitiveness of the garment sector.

“We are investigating the Serratex factory to see if the garment workers are being overworked,” Mr Mony said.

District governor Kith Sopha said that just “five or six” people had fainted due to “weak health” and “fatigue.”

“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “We sent police officials to the scene and they were dismayed that workers talked about a leaking pipe.”

District police chief Born Sam Ath said that around 30 workers had fainted and had gone to a local clinic for treatment.

“The garment workers were frightened and tired after seeing this event,” he said, adding that all of the affected workers were now back at work.

Management at the factory could not be reached for comment.

Last week government officials in Kandal province said that 50 garment workers had fainted due to chemical fumes from shoe glue, though police blamed the heat and exhaustion as the primary cause.


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